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

WORLD FIRST PLAN TO SAFEGUARD OUR OCEANS


23 December 1998

Australia is the first country in the world to develop a comprehensive, national plan to protect and manage its oceans.

Federal Environment and Heritage Minister Robert Hill has launched Australia's Oceans Policy and announced the allocation of $50 million over three years for a range of actions associated with its implementation.

Senator Hill says the policy's main outcome will be a new and integrated planning and management regime that will allow the government and community to ensure the conservation of Australia's rich marine biodiversity and security for marine-based industries and all other ocean users.

"Australia's Oceans Policy will be the guiding force in the future use and care of Australia's marine and coastal resources.

"With this launch, the Howard Government is making clear its commitment to ensuring the long term health and productivity of Australia's oceans. As a nation, we have responsibility for one of the world's largest Exclusive Economic Zones.

"It is timely the policy has been released in the International Year of the Ocean.

"At the core of the policy is a commitment to ecosystem-based management of our marine jurisdiction which will be implemented through a new Regional Marine Planning process.

"Regional Marine Plans -based on large marine ecosystems - will integrate sectoral commercial interests and conservation requirements. The process will ensure that the needs of our marine environment are comprehensively addressed while providing additional certainty and opportunities for all ocean industries and users.

"We will be seeking the involvement of State and Territory governments in the Regional Marine Planning process which will also provide the opportunity to ensure consistent planning across Commonwealth and State jurisdictions.

"To drive the implementation of the policy and the Regional Planning process, the Government will establish a National Oceans Ministerial Board which will include all relevant Commonwealth ministers.

"The Government will also establish a National Oceans Office which will be housed in my department and report to the ministerial board. The Office will support the implementation of the oceans policy and the Regional Marine Planning process. It will also assist in improving co-ordination of marine issues within the Commonwealth.

The policy also sets out a range of key initial actions that will be undertaken by the Government. These include:

The policy has been developed through extensive consultation between the Federal Government and the States and Territories, local government, industry, conservation groups, indigenous communities and the wider public.

"Australia's Oceans Policy will lead to better coordination across all spheres of government, and partnerships between government, the private sector and the scientific and wider communities.

"Through the policy's implementation we will be in a strong position to protect and sustainably manage our ocean resources. This will bring benefits in terms of investment security, soundly based conservation outcomes and minimising potential conflict between sectors over resource allocation," Senator Hill said.

The policy is set out in two documents, Australia's Oceans Policy and Specific Sectoral Measures, which can be obtained by telephoning Environment Australia's Community Information Unit toll free on 1800 803 772. Fact sheets are also available.

Media contacts:
Trent Zimmerman (Senator Hill's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0419 690 617
Dr Ian McPhail (Environment Australia) 0419 673931
Kathleen Mackie (Environment Australia) 02 6274 1625
23 December 1998

Commonwealth of Australia