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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Australian Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation
Senator Ian Macdonald
14 December 2005
The Australian Government today released detailed proposals for the creation of an extensive network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the oceans off south-eastern Australia that again confirms Australia as a world leader in marine environment conservation.
Development of the South-east MPA network is being integrated with the Securing our Fishing Future package jointly announced by the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Senator Ian Macdonald, and the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell.
The 14 candidate MPAs cover more than 170,000 square kilometres of Commonwealth waters off Tasmania, Victoria, southern New South Wales and eastern South Australia. The boundaries and zoning of these MPAs announced today will now be subject to consultations in January and February, then finalised in March 2006.
Senator Campbell said the launch of the network followed extensive scientific research and consultations over a number of years, including with the commercial fishing industry the oil and gas industry and the conservation movement.
“Science tells us this is a remarkable region in environmental terms, with about 80 per cent of species in this region found nowhere else on the planet and these MPAs will protect representative samples of the ecosystems in which these creatures live,” Senator Campbell said.
He said 40% of the proposed network would be highly protected, with another 40% protected in areas where no commercial fishing will be allowed.
The Government also today announced further details of the major fisheries management reforms being implemented as part of the $220 million Securing our Fishing Future package to ensure the sustainability of Commonwealth managed fisheries and to secure the fishing industry’s future.
Senator Macdonald said he had directed the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to implement a range of new measures to address overfishing and to prevent overfishing in future.
“The Government has made it clear that it wants an acceleration of plans for the prevention of overfishing, the rebuilding of fish stocks and management of the environmental impacts of fishing,” Senator Macdonald said.
Senator Macdonald said the moves were necessary following significant concerns within Government and the industry about the poor state of Commonwealth fish stocks and the future sustainability and profitability of the industry.
The Ministers said it was essential that the details of both the proposed MPA network and the new fisheries management regime were available to fishermen so they had the full picture of their future operating environment.
“Having this information at their disposal will enable fishermen to make informed decisions about whether they want to continue in the fishing industry or take advantage of the Australian Government’s generous adjustment package to exit the industry through the concession buy-out.”
The Ministers said combining the adjustment processes for improved fisheries management and MPAs would provide greater certainty for fishermen by ensuring industry was subject to one adjustment process, not two.
For more information visit www.deh.gov.au/coasts/mpa/southeast/index.html
Renae Stoikos (Senator Cambell's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434
David Crisafulli (Senator Macdonald’s office) 0400 144 483