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


21 April 1998

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill announced today that the Governor-General has approved the proclamation of the Great Australian Bight Marine Park.

Senator Hill says the new Park is Australia's and the World's second largest marine park.

"The Great Australian Bight is an area rich with unique marine life and will now be a haven for the plants and animals that live in the sea and on the sea floor.

"The management of the marine reserve has been particularly designed to ensure the protection of the endangered Southern Right Whale and the Australian Sea Lion.

"The declaration of the new marine reserve complements the State reserve proclaimed in September 1996 by the South Australian Government and will assist in putting the region on the World map as a destination for those tourists that want to view the area's whale populations.

"We believe that the area can be managed in a way that will protect it's environmental values but involve minimal impact on existing users, such as the important South Australian tuna industry."

"For example, the mammal protection zone of the Park will generally be closed to boats during the whale season. As the whale season falls outside the tuna fishing season I am confident that existing tuna operators will not be affected.

"The marine reserve covers 1 713 429 hectares, including a band 20 nautical miles wide which extends from the State park boundary to the edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone.

"Within the reserve, 382 477 hectares along the coastline are designated for mammal protection and a further 1 330 952 hectares will help conserve the wildlife of the sea floor such as sponges, delicate marine algae and sea fans.

"This is the first major marine park in any part of the southern ocean that seeks to protect such a large area of the ocean's sea floor. It will provide protection for an area that will be of enormous importance to the nation's scientific efforts to understand our marine environment.

"The declaration of the Park has followed extensive consultation with the South Australian community, including the fishing and petroleum industries and conservation groups."

"The proposal has also involved the co-operation and support of the South Australian government.

"We will immediately begin the task of developing a management plan for the Park."

"To assist stakeholders, we have already indicated that we expect the Park to be managed within a multiple use framework.

"The government believes that this is an excellent example of a "win-win" outcome for the environment in that we are able to protect the outstanding values of the area without threatening the livelihood of those operating in the region."

Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 06 277 7640 or 0419 693 515
Tim Richmond (Environment Australia) 06 250 9500 (bh)
21st April 1998

Commonwealth of Australia