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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
24 October 2005
Australia is committed to developing a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Australian waters as part of Australia's conservation effort, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, told a conference in Geelong, Victoria today.
Addressing more than 700 delegates at the first International Marine Protected Areas Congress, Senator Campbell said a network of MPAs representing ocean ecosystems across the nation's 14 million square kilometres of ocean was a crucial part of Australia's commitment to a healthy and sustainable marine environment for future generations.
The Australian Government is working with the states and the Northern Territory to put in place a National Representative System of MPAs by 2012, reinforcing Australia's world-leading reputation in marine conservation.
These Marine Protected Areas will protect areas within Australia's ocean jurisdiction that represent important marine habitats, from tropical to temperate waters, from deep ocean floor to the continental shelf.
"It's fitting that the first ever international conference on Marine Protected Areas is to be held in Australia, because we are leading the world in marine management," Senator Campbell said.
"I'm proud that we have some of the best experts and scientists working with the Australian Government, doing a terrific job in protecting and conserving our oceans."
Senator Campbell said he was delighted to accept a 'Gift to the Earth' award from the WWF on behalf of the Australian Government, in recognition of the Government's efforts in designing and implementing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park zoning plan at the conference.
The Minister said the Government's recent decision to bring Australia's marine planning program under federal environment law would bring benefits to MPA development by providing a more comprehensive information base for this important conservation work. It would also provide certainty for industry and other marine resource users about their statutory obligations.
In his address to the conference, Senator Campbell called for international support for improvement to marine conservation in international waters - the so-called high seas.
"MPAs are the best way to ensure high seas biodiversity conservation and we will continue to pursue this goal internationally,'' Senator Campbell said.
He said another boost to MPA development would come from the completion of a major marine science data gathering exercise - the National Marine Bioregionalisation - released today, which would provide better information upon which to make management decisions.
Australia first committed to the establishment of a system of protected areas at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
More information on Australia's MPA development program can be found at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/mpa/index.html
Renae Stoikos 0418 568 434