Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Environment Minister meets with fishing and environment groups
28 March 2011
Environment Minister Tony Burke is meeting with Western Australia's conservation and environment groups, recreational fishing and boating and commercial fishing industries as the Gillard Government develops a draft plan for marine reserves in the south-west region.
In Perth and Fremantle today, Mr Burke said he wanted to hear first-hand from the people living and working in the region ahead of the Gillard Government's Community Cabinet later in the week.
"For generations Australians have understood the need to preserve precious areas on land as national parks. Our oceans contain many iconic, precious and fragile sites which deserve protection too," Mr Burke said.
"Australia has the third largest marine environment estate of any nation in the world.
"Almost 90 per cent of the marine species found here in the south west are not found anywhere else in the world - a third of the world's whale and dolphin species are found in this region.
"We know that Australians need their oceans to be healthy if they are going to keep providing us with fish to eat, a place to fish, provide sustainable tourism opportunities and a place for families to enjoy.
"That's why the Gillard Government is working with communities to establish a network of marine reserves to drive a sustainable future for our marine environment; to ensure our oceans stay healthy and continue to sustain fish stocks.
"The first of these marine reserves will be in the south west.
"Today I am here to listen to the views of the people who work in the fishing industry and local environment groups who work so hard to protect the stunning natural environment here in Western Australia."
Mr Burke said a draft plan detailing the proposed marine reserves for Western Australia would be released in a few weeks, followed by a three month period where communities would have an opportunity to have their say about the plans.
"We want to continue working with the community here in Western Australia as we develop these marine reserves and I am committed to taking into account all of the views of interests during this process," he said.
"This week the Prime Minister and government ministers will visit Fremantle for Community Cabinet and I will be conveying the views put to me today directly to the Cabinet."
Mr Burke said this week's Community Cabinet meeting would provide a unique opportunity for people in Western Australia to raise matters that concern them with Gillard Government ministers.
"The Gillard Labor Government is committed to delivering for Western Australia and this community meeting is part of that commitment," he said.
"It will give local communities the opportunity to speak directly with government ministers about what is working well and what can be done better for communities here in Western Australia."
Mr Burke said the Gillard Government was making major investments in Western Australia.
"We are making record investments in building better infrastructure - better roads, rail, hospitals, schools and social housing that will benefit West Australian families," he said.
"We are also investing to ensure the people of Western Australia have access to vital healthcare close to home, providing our students with 21st Century facilities and the vocational training and skills they need to make the most of opportunities created by our growing economy."