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

4 April 2001

PLAN TO PROTECT SOLITARY ISLANDS MARINE RESERVE


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced a plan to provide greater protection for the rich and diverse marine life of the Solitary Islands Marine Reserve, in the Tasman Sea off northern New South Wales.

"Today the Management Plan for the Reserve comes into force, ensuring the continued social and economic vitality of the region, while protecting the habitats and biodiversity of this unique marine ecosystem," Senator Hill said.

"The Reserve covers 130 square kilometres of ocean home to vulnerable grey nurse sharks, humpback whales, bottle-nosed dolphins and sea turtles and birds. Its waters are also habitat to 280 species of fish, 90 species of coral and over 150 species of algae.

"The Plan divides the Reserve into three zones, in recognition of its conservation values and the many ecologically sustainable activities carried out in it.

"A Sanctuary Zone, in the north of the Reserve surrounding a pinnacle known as Pimpernel Rock, will act as a nature reserve. Here, important habitats and ecosystems of sensitive marine species, corals and algae will be preserved, where possible, in an undisturbed state. Only limited activities such as whale watching and scuba diving will be permitted.

"A Habitat Protection Zone will surround the Sanctuary Zone, to protect a variety of ocean floor-dwelling species, subtidal reefs habitats and soft substrate sediments of great scientific interest.

"A General Use Zone, covering most of the Reserve, and the Habitat Protection Zone will be managed for a range of ecologically sustainable activities such as commercial and recreational fishing," Senator Hill said.

The Plan provides for the protection and conservation of the Reserve under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Federal Government has finalised the Plan in consultation with the New South Wales Marine Parks Authority, which manages the Reserve and adjacent Marine Park. Its development followed consideration of public submissions on a draft Plan.

Copies of the Plan are available from Environment Australia's website at http://www.environment.gov.au/marine or its Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772.

4 April 2001 Contacts: Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill's Office): (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364 Dr David Kay (Environment Australia): (02) 6274 1224

Commonwealth of Australia