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Coasts and Oceans


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

7 September 2007

Water quality commitment for Great Barrier Reef

The Australian Government is continuing its commitment to improving the water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef, with a further $5.46 million in funding for projects over two years until July 2008.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull said 20 Natural Heritage Trust projects, approved under the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, will markedly improve the quality of water entering the Reef.

"The Great Barrier Reef is an international icon and we're adopting a range of strategies to address the decline in water quality entering this magnificent environment,'' Mr Turnbull said.

"Eligible projects range from preparing soil management plans for farmers, community-based and remote-sensor water monitoring, and demonstration projects for broad scale land users such as cane farmers and horticulturalists."

Since December 2003 the Australian Government has allocated more than $19.8 million to projects that improve water quality and rehabilitate catchments of the Reef. This funding is in addition to more than $15 million allocated for Queensland wetlands, almost $60 million on regional Natural Resource Management projects and a further $14.4 million to extend the Australian Government's Marine Monitoring Programme.

"The Reef Plan implementation has gone hand-in-hand with the rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 2004, which increased protected areas from 4 per cent to 33 per cent," Mr Turnbull said.

Clown fish. Image courtesy GBRMPA.

A clown fish on the Great Barrier Reef. Image courtesy GBRMPA.

"The Reef Plan builds on existing government policies and industry and community initiatives to halt and reverse the decline in the quality of water entering the Reef.

"The responsibility for implementing these strategies and actions is shared by all Reef Plan participants, which includes governments, industry groups, regional natural resource management bodies, land managers, Indigenous people and community groups.

"The success of the Reef Plan will depend largely on the integration and coordination of activity by these groups Mr Turnbull said."

To find out more about Reef Plan, go to

Projects approved for Australian Government funding under the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan:

World-leading climate change check-up for Australia's coastline

Etty Bay, North Queensland. Image courtesy Arthur Mostead, DEW.

Etty Bay, North Queensland. Image courtesy Arthur Mostead, Department of the Environment and Water Resources.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull has announced that the Australian Government will invest $1.7 million in world-leading technology to model the impacts of climate change on the whole of Australia's coastline.

Mr Turnbull said the model would be used as a 'first pass' to assess risk and work out which regions need more detailed risk assessment and planning - similar to an annual medical check-up."

"The data will enable us to develop a digital model - which is a three-dimensional, graphical depiction of the earth's surface - for Australia's entire coastline and will be a key ingredient in national efforts to help Australians prepare for climate change and adapt to it," Mr Turnbull.

"The Australian Government was one of the first governments in the world to recognise the need for communities and industries to identify and prepare for those impacts of climate change that are unavoidable.

"It will help show the effects of storm surges, floods and tsunamis on Australia's coastal infrastructure, communities and ecosystems."

The assessment of Australia's coastal vulnerability to climate change will also be an important part of the work to be undertaken through the new $126 million Centre for Climate Change Adaptation, which is being established.

Geoscience Australia and the University of Tasmania will also contribute to the coastal vulnerability assessment by providing a map of coastal geomorphology, which will help determine the stability and vulnerability coastal land to erosion.

For more information on the Centre for Climate Change Adaptation:

For more information on the assessment of Australia's coastal vulnerability:

Peter Neville to Chair the FRDC

Peter Neville. Image courtesy Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Peter Neville. Image courtesy Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Mr Peter Neville is the newly appointed Chairman of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and commenced his three-year term on 1 September 2007.

Mr Neville is a former Deputy Director-General of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, and was actively involved in introducing reforms into fisheries management in Queensland.

Since retiring from the public sector, Mr Neville has been operating his own business consulting in fisheries management, business analysis, environmental and strategic planning.

Mr Neville is Chairman of the Southern Bluefin Tuna Management Advisory Committee and Chairman of the Queensland Biosecurity Advisory Council. He is also a director of Ocean Watch Australia, a private company dealing with fisheries related environmental matters.

Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Senator Eric Abetz said that Mr Neville's extensive knowledge of the Australian fishing industry would ensure that the FRDC continues to target high-priority research and development.

Additional $300,000 to combat marine menace

Crown-of-thorns starfish. Image courtesy Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Crown-of-thorns starfish. Image courtesy Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Key tourism sites on the Great Barrier Reef will be better protected thanks to $300 000 funding from the Australian Government to combat crown-of-thorns starfish.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull announced the funding would allow the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators to continue running the crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) control programme.

"The additional funding takes the Australian Government funding up to $2.7 million for the control programme since 2001, and I'm pleased to assist marine park tourism operators to continue monitoring and eradicating this marine menace," Mr Turnbull said.

"Our Great Barrier Reef is a wonderful Australian icon and this funding helps ensure key tourism sites receive ongoing protection from the potentially devastating crown-of-thorns starfish.

"The programme's targeted approach assists Marine Park tourism operators to focus on specific areas, as required, to ensure high quality presentation of the Great Barrier Reef.

"Tourism based around the Great Barrier Reef generates 54,000 full-time jobs and contributes $5.1 billion to the Australian economy each year."

The programme is managed through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and has been implemented on-ground by the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators since its inception.

Crown-of-thorns starfish are found along the whole of the Great Barrier Reef, with outbreaks occurring when their density is high enough that they consume coral faster than the corals can grow.

The recommended control technique involves trained divers injecting the starfish with sodium bisulfate solution, which is harmless to other organisms.

Although this technique has a high success rate, it is an ongoing control process, as new individuals will repopulate the area if left unchecked.

Local councils commit to protecting the Reef

The Great Barrier Reef. Image courtesy Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The Great Barrier Reef. Image courtesy Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The world's largest continuous reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef, is set to benefit from a new initiative announced by the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull.

The new Reef Guardian Council initiative will see participating local councils in the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef work towards achieving better environmental outcomes.

Mr Turnbull said the Reef Guardian Council initiative was a partnership between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and local government to recognise and foster stewardship of the Great Barrier Reef in the face of growing pressures like climate change.

"This initiative gives local councils the opportunity to lead by example to help protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park," he said.

"By implementing practices such as protecting wetlands and improving urban stormwater quality, councils will be helping to reverse the decline in the quality of water entering the Reef."

Mr Turnbull said the first councils to make the commitment to become Reef Guardians included Townsville City Council and the Burdekin, Hinchinbrook and Livingstone Shire Councils.

"I applaud the initiative and leadership shown by these four Queensland councils, which are making the firm commitment to help protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef," Mr Turnbull said.

The Reef Guardian Council initiative looks to achieve better environmental outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef through local government's role in natural resource management.

The initiative also seeks to improve both local government and community capacity in protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

Recreational Fishing Grants announced for NSW and Tasmania

Recreational fishing. Image courtesy Steve Jackson.

Recreational fishing off Broome, Western Australia. Image courtesy Steve Jackson.

The Australian Government has announced the latest round of successful funding applications for NSW and Tasmania under the Recreational Fishing Grants programme.

In Tasmania $720,000 was allocated to 14 projects across the state. Tasmania has previously received around $841,000 for 24 projects under the programme.

Some of the projects to be funded include $100,000 to demolish and build a new jetty at Taranna and $77,000 to construct a boat ramp and walkway at Pirates Bay.

In NSW more than $1 million was awarded to 26 projects. New South Wales has previously received around $2.2 million for 72 projects under the programme.

Some of the successful projects include $100,000 to replace a volunteer marine rescue vessel at Merimbula, $99,520 to increase opportunities for children across the state to participate in recreational fishing and $79,150 to develop an interactive recreational fishing teaching display at the Ballina Marine Discovery Centre.

Further information can be found at:

Increased testing of seafood imports

Prawns. Image courtesy Albert Caton, Bureau of Rural Sciences.

Prawns. Image courtesy Albert Caton, Bureau of Rural Sciences.

Seafood imported into Australia will now be tested for a range of antibiotics, including fluoroquinolones, quinolones and penicillin, under measures announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran.

"This decision follows a recent survey of antibiotic and pesticide residues in imported seafood conducted by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service," Mr McGauran said.

"In a small number of samples, the survey detected residues of antibiotics not allowed in Australian seafood.

"While the residues detected were at low levels and did not represent a food safety issue, the survey showed that some imported seafood did not comply with Australia's rigorous standards."

Mr McGauran has also referred the results of the AQIS survey to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand and the National Health and Medical Research Council for their technical advice, given both these organisations have expertise in the safety issues associated with the use of antibiotics in food production.

Protection zone for Victorian shipwreck SS Alert

The wreck of the Victorian steamship SS Alert will now be protected, thanks to a new protection zone was announced by the Assistant Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, John Cobb.

The steamship, built for quiet Scottish lochs was lost off the Victorian coast between Cape Schanck and Port Phillip Heads in 1893 in violent storm, while on a voyage from Lakes Entrance to Melbourne.

"Its location remained a mystery until its discovery by a group of amateur divers, the Southern Ocean Exploration Team. Finding the shipwreck is an important contribution to our maritime heritage," Mr Cobb said.

A 500 metre radius zone around the wreck makes it off limits to anyone without a permit.

Under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 it is an offence to disturb, damage or remove items from historic shipwrecks, with penalties of up to $50,000 for a body corporate and $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to five years for an individual.

For more information visit 

Cape To Cape Beach Clean Up in south west WA

Rubbish in a waterway. Image courtesy DEW

Rubbish in a waterway. Image courtesy Department of the Environment and Water Resources.

The annual Cape to Cape Beach Clean Up in south west Western Australia will be held again this year on 13 and 14 October. The Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society and the Coastwest are holding this year's event.

It's estimated that over the past three years, more than seven tonnes of rubbish has been removed from beaches.

Local community groups as well as schools, clubs and individuals are invited to pick a stretch of coastline between Cape Leeuwin, Cape Naturaliste and Busselton in Western Australia they would like to clean up.

Groups are asked to register their stretch of coastline, clean it up, analyse and record what they find and return the data sheets. The data will be then be analysed and collated and a report produced, which focuses on reducing the most commonly found items from becoming marine debris.

For more information contact: Heidi Taylor, Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society

Project coordinator Heidi Taylor was awarded the Minister's Award for Coastal Custodian in 2005 for the Cape to Cape initiative.

To nominate for this year's Award go to:

Entries close on 19 October 2007.

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