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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
13 October 2005
Australia's world-leading programme of regional marine planning will be brought directly under federal environment law to provide a clearer focus on conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment and offer greater certainty for industry.
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, announced the Government would bring its program of Regional Marine Planning under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).
The initiative will see Regional Marine Plans, including a system of Marine Protected Areas, established over Australia's 14 million square kilometre ocean jurisdiction.
"The EPBC Act is one of the most comprehensive pieces of environment protection legislation anywhere in the world. This initiative will give new impetus to the implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy," Senator Campbell said.
Under the new approach, regional marine plans will be established under section 176 of the EPBC Act, acting as a key document to guide the Minister, sectoral managers and industry about the key conservation issues and priorities in each marine region.
"These plans will become key reference documents for industry and give forward notice of EPBC Act matters that businesses may face in seeking approval for their activities in a marine region.
"The new process will streamline regional marine planning and provide the additional guidance and consistency that has been sought by industry and other users of the marine environment."
The plans will draw on Australia's growing marine science and socio-economic information base to provide a detailed picture of each marine region. It will describe each region's key habitats, plants and animals; natural processes; human uses and benefits; and threats to the long-term ecological sustainability of the region.
The plans will give details about the various conservation-related statutory obligations under the EPBC Act that are operational in any region, such as those relating to recovery planning for threatened species.
These new bioregional plans will also provide the platform for developing the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas in Commonwealth waters around Australia.
Senator Campbell said the Australian Government would soon meet with stakeholders to explain the new approach. Further details will be announced in due course.
Further background on Australia's Oceans Policy and Regional Marine Planning is available at www.oceans.gov.au/the_oceans_policy_overview.jsp
More information on the Australian Government's Marine Protected Areas programme is available at www.deh.gov.au/coasts/mpa/index.html
Renae Stoikos (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434