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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

5 August 2004

New watershed agreement helps protect Reef

A landmark agreement designed to encourage best practice marine tourism on the Great Barrier Reef was announced today by the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell.

Senator Campbell said the agreement between Ecotourism Australia and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority meant that the Reef would be better protected and marine tourism operators can now have their environmental efforts recognised and encouraged.

"This new program will provide tangible incentives for all operators to improve their environmental performance within the Marine Park through certification under recognised external environmental certification schemes."

The Eco Certification Program, run by Ecotourism Australia, is the first scheme under this initiative to be recognised as appropriate for the identification of high standard marine tourism operations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, at the Ecotourism and Advanced Ecotourism levels of certification.

An important feature of the new Certification Program is that it enables appropriately certified operators to become eligible for 15-year permits, giving greater certainty to tourism businesses.

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government is looking to the future with the tourism industry and is keen to make sure there are opportunities for improvement, innovation and new product.

"We want to be working with the marine tourism industry to maintain the Great Barrier Reef as a sustainable and world-class tourism asset. We want them to be working with us to keep the Great Barrier Reef a healthy and well-protected resource," he said.

"I am very optimistic about the future of tourism within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and feel confident in predicting that it will continue to play a pivotal role in Australia's tourism future."

Note: External certification schemes are required to meet criteria specified by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority which includes a set of best practices that operators agree to adopt, comply with and publicise, as well as a system for monitoring and auditing operator compliance with the best practices and other requirements. Other certification schemes may be recognised in the future if they can demonstrate they meet the assessment criteria specified by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Commonwealth of Australia