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

13 December 2006

Marine planning pioneered in south-west oceans

A new, world-leading approach to marine planning will be pioneered in Australia’s south-western waters in a development that will benefit both the ocean environment and marine industries.

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Campbell, launched the South-West Marine Bioregional Plan in Fremantle today as he welcomed the return of the Kimberley Quest survey vessel after a joint Commonwealth-state marine science voyage to map the sea floor in the region.

Senator Ian Campbell said the South-West Marine Region - which stretches from the mid West Australian coast south around the Great Australian Bight to Kangaroo Island off South Australia - is the first Australian marine region to undergo planning under the recently strengthened national environment legislation.

The Plan is the first to be undertaken under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) after the Howard Government announced changes to its marine planning process in late 2005. The new approach will for the first time provide a clear legislative base for marine conservation planning as well as greater certainty for marine industries.

"By managing our oceans sustainably, we can ensure the future of our marine industries and coastal communities as well as protecting ocean ecosystems," Senator Campbell said.

Senator Campbell said that changes to the planning process will ensure broad engagement with community members, including conservation groups, industry and state governments; is central to the development of the plan.

"Our agreement with the Western Australian Government will see marine planning occur concurrently for part of the inshore, State waters along the south coast as well as the vast Commonwealth waters which extend to 200 nautical miles from land," Senator Campbell said.

"The joint government approach seeks to ensure, where possible, a coordinated and cooperative approach to marine planning that will further advance the sound management and protection of Australia’s marine resources."

"I look forward to the production of the Regional Profile in early 2006 and following that the draft and final South-west Marine Bioregional Plan, including a network of marine reserves."

Media contact:
Regina Titelius 08 9421 1755 or 0419 099 324

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