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

Delivered by Minister Campbell at the 2nd APEC Ocean-Related Ministerial Meeting Bali, Indonesia
16 September 2005

APEC Ocean Ministerial Meeting


[Introductory comments by Minister Campbell included thanking Indonesia for their excellent hosting, thanking Indonesia and Canada for co-chairing, and mentioning the very special relationship between Perth and Bali.]

Last year's tragic tsunami has focused the world's attention on the ocean - its power, its value, and its effect on us all, from large economies to local communities. We depend on our oceans for food security, for economic development, for environmental services and for social and cultural values.

Our region collectively harvests an enormous amount of the world's annual fish catch - and our economies make up more than 70 percent of the world's market for fish and fish products. We are home to the world's richest coral reefs and our seas are among the most abundant in biodiversity. APEC also accounts for more than a third of the world's population - about 2.6 billion people - and vast numbers of these people live close to the coast.

We need to protect the oceans' health and vitality - and preserve the opportunity for our children to benefit in the same way.

Australia congratulates the Republic of Indonesia for the organisation of the Second APEC Ocean-Related Ministerial Meeting. Since APEC Oceans Ministers last met in Seoul in 2002, we've made progress, but we need to do more - much more. Many problems still face us, such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; overfishing; introduced marine pests; and marine debris and pollution.

Work has begun on tackling these threats. For example, successful APEC workshops on introduced marine pests, marine debris, and integrated oceans management have undertaken research and developed recommendations to address the issues. Now we can use the authority and the resources of APEC to accomplish action to achieve our goals. The Bali Plan of Action will guide us on the practical steps that we must take to achieve world-leading, sustainable ocean management, development and conservation in our region.

APEC contribution to global marine sustainability

Global bodies and organisations dealing with fisheries, biodiversity conservation, international law and oceans policy are increasingly calling for regional action on issues of global importance. Such issues include addressing illegal fishing, improving fisheries sustainability, addressing growing threats posed by introduced marine pests and marine debris, and improving our understanding of ocean ecosystems and dynamics.

These global issues must be addressed collaboratively, at a regional level, as well as through different levels of domestic action. APEC can help our region establish a common direction for our efforts. And it can help economies to implement projects and build capacity - so that we can all address our shared problems in ways appropriate to our different abilities.

Bali Plan of Action

For this reason, Australia is pleased to promote and support activities - through the Bali Plan of Action - to address a number of issues of importance to the region. And importantly, the actions that we support are designed to help a coordinated, regional approach to these issues in a way that allows all economies to take part and to benefit.

Marine Debris

Marine debris, and other marine pollution, threatens the livelihood of coastal communities. It has direct impacts on reefs and other marine resources. Floating, discarded fishing nets wastefully catch and kill vast numbers of fish and other marine species such as turtles and dugong. Marine litter can harm the tourism potential of coastal areas and can be hazardous to shipping and to human health.

To tackle this problem, we need to improve understanding of the sources of marine debris and other marine pollution. We need to investigate the economic costs and drivers behind the problem. APEC needs to develop an information network and focal points that can research, study and disseminate expertise and information about marine debris for member economies, and assist with outreach, education and capacity building.

Introduced Marine Pests

Marine pests are a genuine threat to marine environments and marine-based industries. A disease such as the white spot virus can destroy a shrimp aquaculture operation within 3 to 10 days of detection. Introduced predators such as the Northern Pacific Seastar can threaten entire shellfish fisheries and displace native species. Zebra mussels can clog port infrastructure, cables and ship intakes, causing millions of dollars of damage. It is in the interests of all APEC member economies to manage the risks posed by marine pests - not just to ports, aquaculture and fisheries, but also to marine environments, coastal communities and human health.

The APEC region is a leader in introduced marine pest knowledge following major APEC studies and workshops on the topic. We need to turn this knowledge into action. APEC could consider a centre of excellence for introduced marine pest management, including a training centre for students and government officials from APEC economies. We could cooperate to build capacity in monitoring, operational processes, and ways to help implement instruments such as the IMO Ballast Water Convention.

Marine Turtle Conservation

Many APEC economies are already involved in intergovernmental agreements to protect, replenish and recover marine turtles and their habitats, working in partnership with other relevant bodies and organisations. One example is the Indian Ocean and South-east Asia (IOSEA) Turtle MoU.

APEC could assist member economies with a program of capacity building and technical assistance to help developing economies implement key elements of the MoU to improve regional marine turtle conservation. One example of work that could be carried out is training for coastal communities to de-hook turtles that have been captured accidentally. Training could also focus on the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (or TEDs) to reduce marine turtle bycatch in trawl fisheries.

Illegal Fishing

Illegal fishing is a world wide scourge that threatens all our collective efforts to manage fisheries sustainably and responsibly. It also threatens marine environments and undermines maritime security. And unregulated and unreported fishing is no better than illegal fishing, as it also undermines the efforts of those States that act responsibly and cooperate under international agreements. APEC could assist in fighting IUU fishing by considering an improved regional monitoring, control and surveillance network, and supporting the development of a global register of high seas fishing vessels, as proposed by the Ministerial Task Force on IUU Fishing on the High Seas.

Australian National Action on Oceans

Now please allow me to share with you a few examples of Australia's domestic action.

Tsunami early warning

The Boxing Day tsunami highlighted the need for all of us to do more to mitigate the catastrophic effects of tsunamis in the future. Australia will establish an Australian Tsunami Warning System (ATWS) that will provide reliable tsunami warnings and alerts to both the South West Pacific and Western Indian Oceans. We will also host the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System Secretariat office in Perth.

As part of the seventy million dollar ATWS package, Australia is placing instrumentation in the South West Pacific and will provide data to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii for transmission to South West Pacific countries.

High Seas Biodiversity Conservation

There has been increasing international discussion over the last few years about biodiversity conservation in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The unique species of the deep ocean and the high seas are not well protected, and Australia believes that the full range of tools and options to achieve effective high seas biodiversity conservation should be explored.

Marine protected areas (or MPAs) are one such option. For example, multiple-use MPAs such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park can successfully combine conservation outcomes and a range of commercial and recreational uses.

We will be looking at ways to improve high seas biodiversity conservation backed up by an effective legal framework and governance arrangement; a practical compliance regime; and the full cooperation and commitment of all relevant parties.

Australia is also proud to be co-sponsoring the development of a new regional agreement for fisheries management and conservation in the South Pacific. Other co-sponsoring parties are New Zealand and Chile, and we are also very pleased that Peru and the USA have given their support to being involved in the preparations for the first formal meeting.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate my sincere appreciation to the Republic of Indonesia for this important and constructive initiative. I commend our hosts for bringing APEC ocean-related Ministers together to promote action on issues of common concern. I would particularly encourage all member economies to take advantage of this oceans meeting and collectively work together to better manage and protect our oceans and their resources on which we all rely so greatly.

Thank you.

Commonwealth of Australia