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

60 DISTINCT REGIONS IDENTIFIED IN AUSTRALIA'S OCEANS


21 January 1998

For the first time, Australia's vast coastal marine environment has been divided into 60 distinct regions, each believed to contain different wildlife and physical features.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says the landmark scientific work has revealed the extraordinary range of Australia's coastal and marine ecosystems and will help governments better manage our marine environment.

A draft report containing maps of the 60 bioregions and supporting information has been released for public comment.

Senator Hill says An Interim Marine and Coastal Regionalisation for Australia will form the basis of cooperative national efforts to establish a network of marine protected areas, similar to the protected areas network being established on land.

"This is significant work because it is the first time all governments in Australia have set out to determine the broad range of our marine ecosystems and how they can be sustainably used and managed.

"The draft describes 60 bioregions from the coastline to the edge of the continental shelf, and larger regions between the shelf and the limit of Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone.

"The report has been developed under the Coasts and Clean Seas program and will be used to identify which of Australia's marine ecosystems are not yet represented in a national network of protected areas".

Senator Hill says the information used in the report is based on the best available data drawn from hundreds of sources.

The closing date for public comment is 20 February 1998. Copies of the draft can be obtained from Environment Australia on 1800 803 772 or viewed at this Internet address:
http://www.environment.gov.au/net/imcra.html

The report has been developed as a bioregional planning tool and will be submitted to Australian and New Zealand environment ministers for endorsement in 1998.

Contact:
Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7640
Bernadette O'Neil (Environment Australia) 02 6250 0772

Commonwealth of Australia