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Media Release

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment


14 April 1998

Australian's leading role in tackling land based marine pollution was emphasised today during the opening of an international workshop in Townsville.

Senator Ian Macdonald the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, who opened the workshop said land based sources account for up to 80 per cent of marine pollution which and this can have a great effect on the oceans of Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.

"By the year 2000 it is estimated that 75 per cent of the world's population will live within 60 kilometres of the coast, but in Australia the percentage of coastal residents is already over 80 per cent and increasing.

"As a result, our urban, agricultural and industrial pollution sources are concentrated on our coasts and adjacent to our waterways, representing a growing burden on our marine ecosystems," said Senator Macdonald.

Sources of marine pollution including sewage, agricultural runoff, industry, urban runoff and habitat modification, all contribute to a dire mix of pollutants which we feed into our coastal waters on a daily basis.

"The best avenue in tackling the problem is through the Coast and Clean Seas initiative, a key component of the Federal Government's Natural Heritage Trust.

"We are committing over $125 million to clean up our oceans and waterways," said Senator Macdonald.

The three day workshop is designed to discuss ways of preventing, reducing and controlling marine degradation from land-based activities, as outlined under the Global Program of Action (GPA), an agreement signed by over 100 governments. The GPA is a voluntary framework designed to strengthen and create new regional cooperative arrangements to support effective action to combat land-based sources of marine pollution.

Representatives of almost all APEC countries, including Chile, Canada, Japan, Thailand and the Republic of Korea are attending the workshop.

At the national level, the Federal Government is in the process of developing an Oceans Policy that will provide an integrated and strategic framework for the better planning and management of our oceans.

14th April, 1998

For more information call Philip Connole (07) 4771 3066 or 0411 042 813

Commonwealth of Australia