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10 March 2009
Environment Minister Peter Garrett today departed for Papua New Guinea for international talks on marine biodiversity, fisheries and food security in the Asia Pacific region as part of the Coral Triangle Initiative.
Mr Garrett said the multi-national Initiative is aimed at safeguarding marine and coastal resources for coastal populations in the region and is a critical part of Australia’s engagement in the Asia Pacific.
The Coral Triangle is recognised as an area of global environmental significance, with the greatest marine biological diversity on the planet. Seventy five per cent of the world’s known coral species, one third of the world’s coral reef area, and more than 3,000 species of fish can be found in the region.
“This meeting, hosted by the Papua New Guinea Government, follows discussions in Townville late last year and is a further opportunity for us to build on strong support and growing momentum for this program.
“Amazingly, around 240 million people depend on the health of the Coral Triangle which faces many threats to biodiversity and productivity which we must work collaboratively to address for the sake of the marine environment.
“Coastal communities rely on healthy marine systems for food security and sustainable industries and Australia is very pleased to be supporting the Coral Triangle Initiative, sharing our knowledge and expertise in these areas with the other nations involved -Indonesia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands.
“Australia’s northern coastline is adjacent to the Coral Triangle region, and through our ambitious marine bioregional planning process we will identify priority transboundary issues for collaboration,” Mr Garrett said.
“I am looking forward to these discussions over the coming days.”
The Coral Triangle is a triangular-shaped region around the equator at the confluence of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, covering all or parts of Indonesia (central and eastern), Timor Leste, the Philippines, Malaysia (Sabah), Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Australia is cooperating with the United States of America, Asian Development Bank, WWF, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and the WorldFish Centre to support the Initiative.