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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
3 June 2005
Southern right whales and Australian sea lions in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park will continue to be protected under a new management plan.
The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said the Great Australian Bight Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters) Management Plan would protect the southern right whale and Australian sea lion - both endangered species - as well as other mammals, sea creatures and marine plants in the marine park.
The new seven-year plan, the second for the Commonwealth Marine Park, will remain in effect until 2012 and provide protection within two zones - the Marine Mammal Protection Zone and the Benthic Protection Zone.
It follows the recent release of a comprehensive strategy aimed at protecting five of Australia's great whales - the humpback, southern right, fin, blue and sei whales - and restoring their populations to pre-19th century levels, before extensive hunting decimated their numbers.
"The Great Australian Bight Marine Park has a diverse range of species and ocean environments. It is vital that we protect them and this new plan helps to do just that," Senator Campbell said.
Under the plan the Marine Mammal Protection Zone protects calving grounds for the southern right whale and habitat for the Australian sea lion.
The Benthic Protection Zone helps protect marine animals, plants and the seafloor of the Great Australian Bight across the continental shelf all the way to the edge of Australian's Exclusive Economic Zone, 200 nautical miles from the shore.
"The park has an important role in the lifestyle and livelihood of many people and this new plan sets out ways to manage these uses while protecting the marine environment's unique values," Senator Campbell said.
"Southern right whales congregate at the Head of Bight from May to October each year to breed, and the tall cliffs there provide an excellent opportunity to observe these marine mammals in their natural environment.
"The Australian Government is committed to ensuring the continued protection of these unique creatures."
The Commonwealth Park complements a State Park established by the South Australian Government, which protects the inshore waters of the Great Australian Bight.
Copies of the plan are available online at www.deh.gov.au/coasts/mpa/gab
Media Contact: Marianne McCabe 02 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580