The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
21 May 2004
A global benchmark in sustainable oceans management was created today with the launch of Australia's first regional marine plan.
The South-east Regional Marine Plan - the first of several to be developed under Australia's Oceans Policy - was publicly launched by the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, in Melbourne.
Taking in more than two million square kilometres of ocean territory around Victoria, Tasmania, eastern South Australia, and southern New South Wales, as well as the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, the Plan is the culmination of more than three years of research and consultation with oceans interest groups.
"The South-east Regional Marine Plan will be regarded as a historic milestone in Australian natural resource management," Dr Kemp said.
"Not only is this the first such plan to be developed in Australia's ocean waters, it is the first to be developed on this scale anywhere in the world.
"With the world's largest area of ocean territory - some 14 million square kilometres - I am proud that Australia is taking the international lead in this new frontier of ecologically sustainable development."
Dr Kemp said the South-east Regional Marine Plan was an important measure to manage an ocean territory that contributes $19 billion a year to the economy, employs more than 275,000 people either directly or indirectly, and contains unique and abundant ecosystems.
"Marine industries and coastal communities depend upon healthy and sustainable ecosystems and regional marine plans will equip us to avoid the resource management mistakes that have occurred in marine environments in other parts of the world," he said.
"We cannot afford to be complacent in light of environmental disasters such as the collapse of the Grand Banks ecosystem in the North Atlantic, where ecosystems, industries and communities have been devastated."
Dr Kemp said the South-east Regional Marine Plan contained more than 90 actions designed to prevent future problems, as well as stimulate sustainable development. One of the most important actions is the development of a system of representative marine protected areas (MPAs) in the South-east. Options for two areas, known as the Murray and Zeehan areas, covering more than 40,000 square kilometres, have already been identified and are included in the Plan.
"I am proud that ocean users, including conservation groups to industries such as commercial fishing and oil and gas, have been actively involved in designing these candidate MPAs," Dr Kemp said.
"Our aim is to protect representative and important marine habitats for future generations in order to support biodiversity and minimise the threats to these ecosystems."
Other key outcomes of the South-east Regional Marine Plan are:
Dr Kemp said the Howard Government's unique approach to oceans planning and management recognised all ocean users. These interests were represented by the National Oceans Ministerial Board, comprising Ministers for the portfolios of industry, tourism, fisheries, science, transport, and environment. Dr Kemp chairs the Board.
Dr Kemp emphasised that there would be ongoing work and, as such, a Supplement to the Plan would be produced in 2005. It will contain the complete system of MPAs within the Region as well as a more detailed performance management system.
NOTE: Media kits with fact sheets on marine protected areas, Australia's Oceans Policy, the National Oceans Office, regional marine planning, the South-east Marine Region and the South-east Regional Marine Plan will be available at the launch.
The South-east Regional Marine Plan is available from the National Oceans Office, free call 1800 732 364. It can also be downloaded in full or in parts from www.oceans.gov.au