Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Gillard government releasese a draft marine plan for Australia's temperate east region
11 November 2011
The Gillard Government today released the draft marine bioregional plan and proposed marine reserves network for Australia's Temperate East Marine Region.
Environment Minister Tony Burke outlined details of the draft bioregional plan and proposed marine reserves network for the Temperate East region that will be open for a three-month community consultation period.
The Temperate East Marine Region covers approximately 1.47 million square kilometres of temperate and subtropical ocean.
It is made up of Commonwealth marine waters starting from the southern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to Bermagui in southern New South Wales, and also includes the waters surrounding Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands.
Mr Burke said there was a unique opportunity for the government and community to work together to take steps now to protect the region's marine environment for future generations.
"For generations Australians have understood the need to preserve precious areas on land as national parks. Our oceans contain fragile marine life which deserve protection too," Mr Burke said.
"The Temperate East Marine Region has many unique features and is home to a large number of protected species and species that occur nowhere else in the world.
"It is home to the east coast population of the critically-endangered grey nurse shark and includes the southernmost extent of many reef building coral species.
"Several significant seamount ridges run parallel to the coast in this region, including the extensive Tasmantid Seamount Chain. The Taupo Seamount rises roughly 4700 metres from the ocean floor-twice as tall as Mount Kosciuszko.
"Scientists have recently discovered that these features support hundreds of species, including some previously unknown to science.
"We know that Australians need our oceans to be healthy if they are going to keep providing us with fish to eat, a place to fish, sustainable tourism opportunities and a place for families to enjoy.
"The Gillard Government is working with communities to establish a marine reserves network to support a sustainable future for our marine environment and ensure our oceans stay healthy and productive.
"Through our initial consultation in the development of these draft plans, where possible, we have avoided having an impact on local jobs or people who love to fish."
The marine reserves network being developed will have no impact in state waters. The proposed networks of marine reserves are in Commonwealth waters which start 5.5 kilometres off the coast.
Mr Burke said the Government had worked with environment groups, the fishing industry, recreational fishing groups and other marine users in the development of a draft bioregional plan and proposed marine reserves network for the temperate east.
"Now there will be a further opportunity for communities to have their say in this important process and I encourage people to get involved," Mr Burke said.
"We extended the 60-day consultation period to 90 days to ensure people have every opportunity to provide feedback. The feedback and input the Government receives will assist in finalising the proposal for a new marine reserve network and bioregional plan for the Temperate East Marine Region."
There are nine proposed marine reserves in the Temperate East Marine Region and these are broken down into six types of zones to secure conservation benefits and where possible minimise impact on industries and people who like to fish.
The marine reserves network also incorporates the existing Commonwealth marine reserves in the region.
During the three-month public consultation period, officers from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities will be visiting coastal centres in the Temperate East Marine Region. They will hold information sessions and meet with representatives of various industries and stakeholder groups.
Public information sessions will be held in Bermagui, Ulladulla, Jervis Bay, Port Stephens, Forster, Coffs Harbour, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. The consultation period will close on 21 February 2012.
The Government's proposals for the Coral Sea will be released soon.
For more information on the draft marine bioregional plans and the proposed Commonwealth marine reserves in the Temperate East Marine Region, including details of public information sessions scheduled across the region, go to www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/index.html.