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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

25 March 2004

Historic protection for the Great Barrier Reef

The Howard Government's new internationally acclaimed protection regime for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will come into force on July 1.

A plan providing the highest possible level of protection for one third of the entire GBRMP passed through the Commonwealth parliament yesterday with bipartisan support.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said the Great Barrier Reef would now be the best protected reef system in the world.

“This is an historic moment for the Great Barrier Reef and for Australia,” he said. “The Great Barrier Reef is not only a treasure for Australia but for the world.

“The plan puts Australia at the cutting edge of reef protection worldwide.”

“Coral reefs around the world are under rapidly increasing pressure from various aspects of population pressure, and our Great Barrier Reef is no exception,” he said.

“Threats such as increased nutrients entering reef waters, and global warming, are placing reefs everywhere under great stress.

“The best scientific advice is that the most effective way to ensure that reefs are healthy enough to cope with these sorts of pressures is to protect at least one-fifth of all bioregions in no-take zones, and that is exactly what we have done,” Dr Kemp said.

Dr Kemp said the plan was about more than protecting the unique biodiversity of the reef.

He said there would be major economic, as well as biodiversity conservation benefits, from the plan.

Dr Kemp said the $4.5 billion tourism industry based on the Great Barrier Reef relied entirely on the reef remaining healthy. Sustainable fisheries also relied on a healthy reef environment to protect breeding stocks of commercial species.

The Representative Areas Program will complement the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan announced late last year by Prime Minister John Howard and Queensland Premier Peter Beattie that aims to halt, and then reverse, the decline in the quality of water entering the Reef lagoon within a decade.

Dr Kemp also announced today the appointment of former Australian Fish Management Authority Managing Director, Mr Geoff Gorrie, to head a four person Independent Panel to develop terms of reference for a structural adjustment package for commercial fishers adversely affected by the new rezoning.

Dr Kemp said the package would become available to affected fishers from July 1.

He said that while the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority had made every reasonable effort in designing the RAP to protect the interests of existing users, it was inevitable that there would be some impacts on existing activities.

“We will ensure that there is fair treatment for people who have been affected,” he said.

Dr Kemp praised the work of GBRMPA Chair, Virginia Chadwick, and her entire staff in development of the RAP.

“This was one of the largest and most complex public consultation and zoning processes ever undertaken in this country,” he said.

“It involved literally hundreds of meetings and tens of thousands of submissions and I believe that Virginia and her people have done an exemplary job that will serve as a model for these sorts of processes well into the future.

“I am proud of the work that has been done towards this massive environmental and economic achievement for Australia.”

Maps for the zones can be found at

We also have PDF map files showing green zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park before and after Representative Areas Program.

Commonwealth of Australia