Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Marine Park Management Plans finalised

Media release
12 March 2013

The Gillard Government today tabled the management plans for the world's largest marine reserve network that will protect more than 2.7 million square kilometres of our precious ocean environment.

Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said he had taken into account more than 65,000 public comments on the draft management plans.

"We're for protecting our oceans in the same way that we have protected precious areas on land with national parks," Mr Burke said.

"Massive damage has been done to our oceans in the space of one lifetime. The Gillard Government is determined to start turning that around.

"The final management plans will be tabled in Parliament today.

"This is the culmination of an unprecedented public consultation process, with more than 250 meetings and almost three-quarters of a million submissions over the past four years on the new marine network and the science and planning that underpin it.

"The final management plans will give certainty to all operators, setting out how the reserves are to be managed and what activities can and cannot be undertaken.

"With the exception of the South- East Marine Reserves Network management plan which comes into operation on 1 July 2013, the plans for the rest of the network do not take effect until 1 July 2014, so there will be no on the water changes until then.

"Until the plans have been through Parliament, funds from the Fisheries Adjustment Assistance Package cannot flow to the affected fishing businesses.

"Meanwhile we will continue to work with stakeholders over the next year, so that they are fully prepared for the July start-up date.

"This historic step secures the long-term conservation and sustainable use of Australia's oceans.

"We will have a network of marine reserves conserving the incredible diversity of our marine ecosystems and habitats, protecting them for our children and grandchildren.

"This Government is very proud to bring to a conclusion the years of work on this major conservation achievement.

"It would be a travesty if the Opposition were to turn their backs on the work they used to support.

"They would be condemning the fishing industry to years of uncertainty and calling a halt to a process that will begin to reverse the damage we have done to our oceans over our lifetime.

"This Government has a proud record of taking extreme care with our oceans, we've shown it in our dealings with the supertrawler, protection of Ningaloo reef and fighting the Crown-of-thorns starfish and runoff issues into the Great Barrier Reef."

The final management plans will now be legally registered and will be available online as soon as practicable through www.environment.gov.au/marinereserves.