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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
24 July 2003
Australia's coast is in a healthy state declared Captain Sarah Parry as her ship, Windeward Bound, arrived in Sydney today after completing a 17-month re-enactment of Matthew Flinders' epic voyage 200 years ago.
Throughout the voyage - which was supported by the Federal Government with a $270,000 contribution from the Natural Heritage Trust - the crew undertook a range of environmental surveys on various issues affecting the Australian coastal marine environment. These included flora and fauna surveys, seawater testing, and port and marine debris surveys.
Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage Dr Kemp, congratulated Captain Parry and the crew of Windeward Bound on completing a successful voyage and raising awareness in local communities about the need to care for our coast and oceans.
"The Matthew Flinders re-enactment voyage has also produced one of the most important marine surveys of our time, creating a detailed comparative study of our coastline with that of 200 years ago," Dr Kemp said.
"Importantly, it has created a new benchmark for monitoring the future impact of the urban development now occurring along our coastline, particularly the Eastern seaboard."
Captain Parry said during their time at sea, the crew assessed the impact of human activities on Australia's coast and compared the findings with the relatively virgin area charted by Flinders.
"There was no major degradation on the islands, the water quality was good in most places around Australia, and there was generally an abundance of diverse, unique and spectacular marine life," Captain Parry said.
Representing Dr Kemp at a welcome home reception today, Member for Cook, Bruce Baird, said preservation of Australia's coast and oceans is an issue for all levels of society - governments, local communities and individuals - and the voyage highlighted the contribution of volunteers and community groups in particular.
"Many restoration projects undertaken by concerned local communities have been funded under the Natural Heritage Trust and support the Federal Government's commitment to ensuring the sustainability of our coast and oceans now and in the future," he said.
Dr Kemp said Australia is leading the world with its focus on sustainable ocean management.
"Our focus is on maintaining the health of our coast and ocean ecosystem but at the same time allowing the co-existence of strong, diverse and environmentally sustainable marine industries," he said.
He said the recently launched draft South East Regional Marine Plan represented a bold new approach to planning and management of two million square kilometres of ocean waters off the south-east of the continent.
"The Great Barrier Reef protection plan, which recommends a six-fold increase of protected zones and marine sanctuaries within the Reef Marine Park, will also result in the largest network of protected marine areas in the world."
However, Dr Kemp warned that while Australia's marine areas are in generally good shape in comparison with other countries, Australians should not become complacent.
"Our ocean systems are under increasing pressure from many uses and the Howard Government's comprehensive system for integrated ocean planning and management will reduce the risk of major damage to our marine systems. But the public at large also needs to play an active role in protecting and preserving our coasts and marine life," he said.
"The completion of the Windeward Bound voyage highlights how effective a partnership between the Federal Government and the Australian community can be in keeping Australia's coast and oceans in good health for generations to come."