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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Commonwealth Consults on New Great Australian Bight Reserve


22 November 1996
(164/96)

Formal consultation has begun into the feasibility of establishing a Commonwealth marine park in the Great Australian Bight, to complement the State reserve proclaimed in September by the South Australian Government.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has announced that advice is being sought from conservation and indigenous groups, the State Government and the fishing, tourism, petroleum and minerals industries.

"Our aim is to build on the South Australian Government's announcement of a park in State waters to help conserve sensitive whale breeding grounds and habitats for sea lions.

"A reserve in Commonwealth waters in the Great Australian Bight would enhance the State reserve and further protect the area's considerable conservation values, including important habitats for benthic (bottom dwelling) plants and animals, assessed by the Federal Environment Department.

"The Government is going into the consultations with an open mind and is seeking the views of a wide cross section of the community.

"It is important to involve the existing users of the Great Australian Bight in considering the boundaries, zones and management arrangements, if a Commonwealth reserve is to be established.

"With a multiple use approach there is no reason why sustainably managed fisheries, for example, cannot co-exist in an area which also has the conservation of biodiversity as its major objective.

"If a Commonwealth reserve was created in the region, it would help realise the marine component of the National Reserve System which is aiming to conserve in protected areas good examples of all of Australia's seascapes, in temperate to tropical waters.

Public consultation is being conducted by the Federal Environment Department in cooperation with the SA Government and relevant Commonwealth departments.

If the outcome is positive, Senator Hill will consult other Federal Ministers about issuing a Notice of Intent to declare a Commonwealth reserve in the Bight. Public submissions would then be invited for a further two months.

Contact: Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 06 277 7640 or 0419 693 515

Peter Woods (Department) 06 250 0345

Commonwealth of Australia