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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Australian Minister for Education, Science and Training
The Hon Julie Bishop MP

17 August 2006

Great Barrier Reef bounces back

Coral trout numbers on protected offshore reefs are already higher as a result of the new Zoning Plan, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, said today.

Senator Campbell said data from recent monitoring indicates the new green zones throughout the Great Barrier Reef are showing substantive positive benefits.

The monitoring initiated by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, as part of the monitoring of the Zoning Plan, clearly indicates the green zones established in mid-2004 in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are having a positive effect even faster than scientists expected.

The work was carried out by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and James Cook University and supported in part by funding from the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility.

Senator Campbell said these early positive results are great news for the long term future of the Great Barrier Reef and positive news for the many users of the Marine Park.

“These results are very encouraging and I am sure will be of particular interest to recreational and commercial fishermen. They will also be reassuring to tourism operations that rely on fish size and numbers to enhance the experiences of divers and visitors to the Great Barrier Reef,” Senator Campbell said.

“The amount of both coral trout and stripey sea perch on protected inshore reefs in the Whitsunday Islands have also increased since the new Zoning Plan was introduced in July 2004.

“Fish stocks are likely to be enhanced and benefit tourism and fishing through improved health of the overall Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. As an additional benefit, it is likely to be an increased spill-over of adult fish and the transfer of juvenile fish from green zones to zones open to fishing.

There will be ongoing reporting of what is happening with other popular species such as sweetlip and red emperor. The results also indicate the compliance programme designed to protect the Reef is working well,” he said.

Minister Bishop congratulated the researchers at AIMS and James Cook University on their efforts in working with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

“This is an excellent example of scientists collaborating with local communities, industries and other Authorities to provide an ultimate benefit to the Australian nation. The work of AIMS and James Cook University will help to ensure that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is a healthy ecosystem,” she said.

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government was committed to maintaining the historic levels of protection of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Australia was recognised as world leaders in Marine Protected Areas.

“Kim Beazley's policy will effectively tear up Green Zones and throw the fishing community and those who use the Great Barrier Reef into turmoil,” Senator Campbell said.

The Zoning Plan significantly increased protection of the Park and provided a network of ‘Green Zones’, giving greater protection to the Reef's unique and precious biodiversity by prohibiting extractive activity.

It now provides one of the largest and best protected marine parks in the world.

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield (Senator Campbell’s office) 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902
Murray Hansen (Ms Bishop’s office) 02 6277 7460 or 0417 556155

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