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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon Peter McGauran MP
&
Western Australian Minister for the Environment
The Hon Mark McGowan MLA
&
Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry
The Hon Kim Chance MLC

7 April 2006

Western Australia's marine mapping mission


The secrets hidden in Western Australia's coastal waters will soon be revealed through a $4.2 million project to map the State's marine habitats.

The Australian and Western Australian governments today launched the Natural Heritage Trust-funded Securing WA Marine Futures initiative.

The partnership project involves five regional natural resource management groups, researchers such as the University of Western Australia and representatives from the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council, the Conservation Council and Australian and State Government agencies.

Australian Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, said fieldwork would focus on the marine environment from Kalbarri to Esperance.

"Western Australia internationally renowned for its diverse marine and coastal ecosystems, but we need more detailed information about what's out there so we can look after it properly," Senator Campbell said.

"The Marine Futures project will build on complementary work by the National Oceans Office to provide Australia's first continuous marine habitat mapping system, extending from the coastline to 200 nautical miles offshore.

"Data will be collected from key sites in the sub-tropical waters of the beautiful west coast and down to the temperate Southern Ocean.

"A state-of-the-art habitat map and database will be produced for coastal waters. This will not only guide regional planning decisions, but more importantly lead to practical projects that conserve our resources so future generations can enjoy them too."

Western Australian Minister for Agriculture, Kim Chance, said the project had the support of regional groups as it aligned with priorities identified in the South Coast, South West, Northern Agricultural, Rangelands and Swan NRM strategies and investment plans.

"The project will help these communities develop 'resource condition targets' for marine areas, which are really useful in measuring the progress of local activities," Mr Chance said.

"The funding announced today will also provide for community education and outreach programs to use local knowledge to find solutions to regional issues."

Western Australian Minister for the Environment, Mark McGowan, said fieldwork would offer vital information on unique habitats such as rocky reefs and red algae, which we are still learning about.

"This project will supply detail on many marine species found only in Western Australia, such as the Dhufish and the Queen Snapper," Mr McGowan said.

For more information about the project phone Jessica Meeuwig 08 6488 1464. Natural Heritage Trust details: www.nrm.gov.au

Media Contacts:
Renae Stoikos (Senator Campbell's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434
Russ Neal (Minister McGauran) (02) 6277 7520 or 0413 601 303
Alicia Miriklis (Mr Chance) (08) 9213 6700 or 0428 911 240
Nigel Higgs (Mr McGowan) (08) 9222 9111 or 0408 051 772

Commonwealth of Australia