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


10 December 1998

The Howard government has announced its plans to establish Australia's first exclusively deep-sea marine reserve off the coast of Tasmania to protect the region's unique seamounts.

Federal Environment and Heritage Minister, Robert Hill, says the proposed marine reserve would protect the unique and vulnerable seamount communities located 170 kilometres south of Hobart.

"The announcement to issue a formal notice of intent for the Marine Reserve reflects the Howard government's commitment to developing a nationally representative system of marine protected areas in Commonwealth waters and follows the declaration of the World's second largest marine park in the Great Australian Bight earlier this year," Senator Hill said.

"Four other areas are also currently under assessment by the Commonwealth.

"The Tasmanian seamounts are a distinct geological feature within Australian waters. They include 70 submerged and extinct volcanoes that rise from depths of between 1000 and 2000 metres from the sea floor and are found nowhere else on Australia's continental margin.

"The seamounts support a highly diverse range of bottom-living plants and animals, many of which are new to science and are not found anywhere else in the world."

Senator Hill said that while management arrangements will be finalised following the declaration of the Reserve, the Commonwealth has indicated its preference for a unique vertical zoning system for the Seamounts Reserve.

"CSIRO advice indicates that the upper levels of the water column are not likely to be interrelated to the seamount ecosystems. We therefore propose to declare the area below 500 metres a highly protected zone while shallower waters will be a managed resource zone.

"The Reserve proposal has been developed following extensive consultation with the community including the fishing industry and conservation organisations. I am appreciative of the constructive approach that all stakeholders have adopted during this process."

Senator Hill said that issuing of the Notice of Intent will trigger a formal three month consultation process on the proposal under the Commonwealth National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Submissions should be directed to Ms Erica Welford, Marine Group, Environment Australia, PO Box 787, Canberra, ACT, 2601 by 15th March 1999.

For further information:
Matt Brown (Senator Hill's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515.
Peter Taylor (Environment Australia) 02 6274 1759 or 0419 293 466
10th December, 1999

Commonwealth of Australia