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


17 May 1999

Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage Robert Hill today announced $397,000 in Coasts and Clean Seas funding to treat effluent being discharged from prawn farms in Northern Australia.

Senator Hill made the announcement at the opening of the 12th Meeting of the APEC Marine Resource Conservation Working Group in Cairns.

Senator Hill said the funding would help establish natural mangrove wetlands to reduce nutrient and organic load from prawn farm discharge water, the first stage beginning in the Mission Beach area of North Queensland. As a second stage, an additional project site will also be established in North Queensland or the Northern Territory.

"This is the trial of a new technique for the treatment of this type of aquaculture waste and, if successful, will be applicable to other aquaculture facilities both in Australia and overseas," Senator Hill said.

"This is an excellent example of the Natural Heritage Trust's Coasts and Clean Seas program using innovative approaches to stem the deterioration of coastal water quality while helping to ensure the sustainability of important marine industries such as aquaculture.

"It also demonstrates the partnership between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments and the private sector to effectively tackle the conservation, sustainable use and repair of Australia's coastal and marine environments."

Senator Hill's announcement of the new initiative to curb pollution in Australia's northern waters came as 14 APEC economies met in Australia for the first time to discuss a range of critical marine conservation issues.

Over three days, the Working Group will consider cooperative action by APEC economies on a range of policy and project initiatives including:

The specific issues to be addressed include: "The health of the marine environment is crucial to the economic and social well-being of people in the APEC region," Senator Hill said.

"This is a significant meeting for the Marine Resource Working Group because it's critically reviewing its mandate and also holding a joint session for the first time with the APEC Fisheries Working Group.

"Australia is pleased to host this historic joint meeting.

"The marine resources of APEC economies face serious threats from pollution, over-exploitation, conflicting uses, and habitat degradation and destruction.

"Oceans and seas link APEC economies to each other and to the world and Australia is committed to action to protect this collective resource.

"We are recognised as world leaders in the management of our oceans and developments such as the Oceans Policy released by the government last year are attracting considerable interest from other nations.

"We hope to share the knowledge and approaches we are developing with other APEC economies.

"For example, based on our experience in the Great Barrier Reef, I have highlighted the value of marine protected areas as a means to protect conservation values, while providing security to the future of those industries which depend on the quality and productivity of marine ecosystems.

Media Contact:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill's office) 0411 128 582 or 02 6277 7640
Phillip Burgess (Environment Australia) 0411 128 572

The countries represented at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Marine Resource Working Group Meeting are: Australia, Brunei Darusalam, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, China, Republic of Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Thailand and the United States of America.

Commonwealth of Australia