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

14 April 2000
EMBARGO: 9am 14/4/00

PLANNING FOR THE WORLD’S LAST FRONTIER


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today launched the first stage of a comprehensive planning process to guarantee a sustainable future for the nation’s oceans.

Speaking at the National Oceans Forum in Hobart, Senator Hill said Australia would lead the world in introducing regional marine plans to protect the ocean environment and ensure fishing and other offshore industries are ecologically sound.

“Regional marine plans are crucial to protect the future of the world’s last frontier. While plans have been put in place to provide planning guidance on land, our vast global oceans have so far been left without such surety,” he said. “Regional marine plans will result in increased certainty and long-term security for maritime industries which contribute approximately $30 billion annually to the Australian economy – around 8 percent of GDP. They will improve community understanding of the marine environment, maintenance of environmental health and the development of an improved sense of ownership and responsibility for sustaining marine ecosystems.”

Senator Hill said the first Regional Marine Plan would be for the South-east region covering 2 million square kilometres of ocean off Victoria, Tasmania, Macquarie Island, southern New South Wales and eastern South Australia.

“Regional marine planning at this scale has never been attempted before in any nation’s exclusive economic zone. It will include waters out to 200 nautical miles and any part of the continental shelf beyond that.

“Pressures on the marine environment are significant, with the South-east marine region one of the most complex in Australia. Pressures include major urban coastal populations, ports, shipping, fishing, petroleum operations and other marine industries, making appropriate planning vital to the health of the area’s ecosystems,” Senator Hill said.

The driver for the National Oceans Forum is Australia’s Oceans Policy, a $50 million Commonwealth plan to ensure the care, understanding and wise use of Australia’s vast oceans.

The regional marine plans are a key component of the Oceans Policy’s move to ecosystem-based planning and management, with regional marine plans to be developed for all of Australia’s marine jurisdiction.

“Internationally, Australia’s Oceans Policy has made us a world leader in the management of marine environments. The National Oceans Forum and the launch of the South-east Regional Marine Plan process heralds the transition of the Oceans Policy into action,” said Senator Hill.

The National Oceans Forum in Hobart will run for two days, April 14-15. Further information can be found at: www.oceans.gov.au.

14 April 2000

Media contacts: Rod Bruem (Senator Hill’s Office) 02 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364
Veronica Sakell (Director National Oceans Office) 03 6221 5000
Bernadette O’Neill (National Oceans Office) 03 6221 5006 or 0418 650 203

Commonwealth of Australia