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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

19 August 2005

South West Research voyage to expose deep ocean secrets

The secrets of little known deep ocean territory off Western Australia will be revealed during theAustralian Government’s preparations for marine planning in the region.

The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said he looked forward to the Government’s marine planning in the south-west as he inspected the findings on board the research vessel the RV Southern Surveyor today.

The ship and its scientists have just returned to Fremantle after 28 days at sea, probing depths up to 1500m to gather scientific information for the upcoming planning process, a voyage that has provided a tantalising glimpse of some of the natural riches and remarkable marine species to be found in the region.

The south-west region is an area of more than 1.3 million square kilometres of Commonwealth waters from the mid Western Australian coast, south around the Great Australian Bight to eastern Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia.

Senator Campbell said he was pleased the Government’s marine planning was moving west, following similar exercises for ocean waters off the south-east and north of the continent.

“Australia leads the world in offshore marine planning and this is a great opportunity to learn more about our oceans so we can manage them sustainably in the interests of the environment as well as the industries that rely on their health,’’ Senator Campbell said.

“There is much that remains unknown about our deep ocean habitats and its fauna and I have commissioned marine science voyages and other studies to help fill the gaps in our knowledge. This planning process will provide the first large-scale collections of ocean floor creatures from the waters to the west and south of Australia and will produce the first detailed maps of the ocean floor.

“It is an exciting undertaking and I am encouraged by the interest of the Western Australian and South Australian Governments in the process. We are hoping to forge a partnership with the two States to make the most of our efforts in inshore and offshore waters.’’

Senator Campbell said the remarkable marine species recovered and sea floor images captured during the scientific voyages were just the start of the research needed for marine planning in southwest waters. Other research commissioned by the Department of the Environment and Heritage included a socioeconomic analysis of marine industries in the region and a review of Indigenous peoples’ connections with the sea.

“We want to make sure that we keep using our marine resources sustainably and progress our conservation agenda with minimal or no impact on the economic and recreational values and activities so important to this region. The south-west marine plan will help us achieve that balance,” Senator Campbell said.

Media contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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