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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
9 May 2006
As part of the Australian Government's $388.9 million budget boost to combat illegal foreign fishing in northern Australian waters, $2 million will be invested in a fast response vessel to further protect Australia's World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from the ravages of illegal foreign fishing, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, announced today.
"The 2006-07 Federal Budget includes $2 million over the next three years for the acquisition and operation of a fast response vessel in the Reef's northern waters," Senator Campbell said.
"Illegal foreign fishing not only harms our unique natural heritage, it also damages our $1.448 billion fishing industry.
"As part of the Australian Government's initiatives to combat illegal foreign fishing, the Australian Defence Force and Coastwatch's Joint Offshore Protection Command's capability will be significantly enhanced in Australia's northern waters.
"The new fast response vessel will be designed to work with the command to protect our Reef."
The vessel will be a similar design to an existing Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority compliance vessel which has proven effective in supporting operations to combat illegal foreign fishing in the Reef.
"The Great Barrier Reef is undisputedly as one of the world's most important natural assets," Senator Campbell said.
"The Reef is the largest natural feature on earth, stretching more than 2300km along the north-east coast of Australia, from the northern tip of Queensland to just north of Bundaberg."
In a 2003 report, the Productivity Commission estimated that the economic worth of tourism in the Great Barrier Reef catchment and lagoon is $4.3 billion a year - of this, some $1.4 billion is directly attributable to the marine tourism industry.
"This vessel is an important initiative to protect Australian interests, both environmental and economic," Senator Campbell said.
For more information: www.deh.gov.au/about/publications/budget/2006
Marianne McCabe on 02 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580