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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

11 June 2000


Federal Environment and Heritage Minister Robert Hill today announced the proclamation of a Commonwealth Marine reserve to protect one of Australia's best-known havens for sea snakes.

The Cartier Island Marine Protected Area is located in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia's Kimberley coast and was formerly a Defence Practice Area. The Minister for Defence has agreed to support this new initiative by releasing the area so that it can be managed to ensure the long-term protection of its unique conservation values.

Covering 167 square kilometres, 190 nautical miles off the coastline, the new reserve will protect a unique reef system in the West Sahul region notable for its rich biodiversity. It will add to the conservation efforts already in place within the region at Ashmore Reef National Nature reserve.

The new reserve provides habitat for a number of species including seabirds, dugong, several species of marine turtles and a high diversity and density of sea snakes.

Senator Hill said the management of Cartier Island Marine reserve will allow natural processes to restore the ecological balance and biological diversity of the reef and will provide a refuge area for a range of marine species. It should also facilitate the natural transportation of biological material in the ocean currents from the rich reefs of Asia to the reef systems located along the West Australian coast.

"The declaration has followed broad consultation with stakeholders representing government, industry and conservation interests," Senator Hill said.

"The Government will soon begin working with stakeholders to develop a management plan to determine the management arrangements and strategies for the reserve. The plan will be developed in full consultation with Australian and Indonesian stakeholders.

The declaration of the Cartier Island reserve coincides with the announcement of the new Lord Howe Island Marine Park.

"The Howard Government is recognised as a world-leader in ocean protection and marine park management. These declarations reflect our commitment to developing a nationally representative system of marine protected areas in Commonwealth waters. It follows the declaration of the world's largest marine protected zone in the Macquarie Island Marine Park last year," Senator Hill said.

11 June 2000

Online Details:
Media contacts:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0411 258 364
Graeme Beech (Environment Australia) 02 6274 1223 or 0419 293 465

Cartier Island Marine Reserve Fact Sheet

Commonwealth of Australia