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Agreement on Trans Tasman Marine Conservation

Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Australian Minister for the
Environment and Heritage

The Hon. Chris Carter MP
New Zealand Minister for
Conservation

J O I N T M E D I A R E L E A S E

Friday, 24 November 2006

Agreement on Trans Tasman Marine Conservation Measures

Australia and New Zealand have reached agreement on a range of marine environmental measures which pave the way for a new era of ocean management between the two countries.

Four key areas of marine environmental protection have been identified as priorities for co-operation at today’s meeting of the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council in Christchurch, New Zealand. They include:

- a commitment to explore the possibility of marine protection in areas where the exclusive economic zones of Australia and New Zealand meet, and the science necessary to underpin such protection.

- leading efforts to conserve whales through the International Whaling Commission and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals;

- jointly developing a Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and their Habitats in the Pacific Region, which has now been signed by nine countries;

- leading efforts to conserve albatrosses and petrels through the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.

Negotiations first commenced when Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator the Hon Ian Campbell met with New Zealand’s Minister for Conservation, the Hon. Chris Carter MP, in 2004.

Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, the Hon. Greg Hunt, led negotiations today that secured a firm commitment from both nations to explore how constructive steps can be taken to secure the sustainability of our marine environment.

At the conclusion of the talks, Senator Campbell said, “The Governments of Australia and New Zealand are showing the world what cooperation can achieve in marine environment protection and biodiversity conservation and today’s agreement strengthens our ties,’’

Mr Carter said the communiqué marked an exciting opportunity for both countries.

"I look forward to significant progress resulting from this initiative. Australia and New Zealand face many of the same marine issues; there is no fence between our waters. We can help each other, and in doing so we can help the marine species we share."

NOTE: Please see attached Communiqué for greater detail

--

Joint Communiqué

Australia and New Zealand lead the way on cross boundary conservation of marine biodiversity

Australia and New Zealand share many values in relation to the conservation and management of marine biodiversity and resources and have demonstrated what can be achieved through cooperation in areas of science and policy.

Australia and New Zealand are cooperating to ensure the conservation and management of important marine ecosystems through marine protected areas. Australia recently discussed the development of oceans policy with New Zealand at an international workshop to develop New Zealand’s oceans policy. Australia has developed the world’s first comprehensive, national framework for ensuring the long-term health and productivity of its oceans. At the core of Australia’s Oceans Policy is a commitment to ecosystem-based management, which is now being implemented through marine bioregional planning. This world-leading cross-sectoral approach to oceans management sets a new global benchmark for the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources, including the establishment of Australia’s National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.

Australia and New Zealand have agreed to work together to meet their obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the World Summit on Sustainable Development towards the establishment of a representative global network of marine protected areas by 2012. Trans-Tasman cooperation will build on national and regional systems through the development of complementary regional programmes and policies, and international agreements. This co-operation will extend to exploring the possibility of marine protection in areas where Australia and New Zealand's exclusive economic zones meet.

Australia and New Zealand are also committed to exploring opportunities for technical cooperation to improve the scientific basis for the conservation and management of marine biodiversity and resources in the Tasman Sea.

Cooperation between Australia and New Zealand on the NORFANZ cruise has resulted in the release earlier this year of an assessment of the conservation values of the Norfolk Island Seamounts Area. The cruise found a high level of diversity and endemism on seamounts sampled. Thirty-six per cent of species sampled were new to science, including fishes, octopus, squat lobsters, prawns, krill, seaspiders, brittle stars, and hydroids. Many of the seamounts sampled appeared to be isolated marine systems in pristine condition, and may provide an exceptional opportunity to examine evolution and specialisation in the deep sea. This collaboration saw unprecedented trans-Tasman cooperation at the political, managerial and scientific levels.

The benefits of trans-Tasman cooperation extend to the conservation and management of migratory marine species, including whales, marine turtles and seabirds.

Australia and New Zealand are leading efforts to conserve whales through cooperation at international for a, including the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

Regionally, Australia and New Zealand are working together on best practice whale rescue initiatives and are keen to share their expertise with other Pacific countries. A recent Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) workshop held in Auckland brought together South Pacific managers to hear about the Australian and New Zealand experiences on entanglement issues and ways of responding to stranding events. Australian and New Zealand environment officials are holding bilateral discussions to exchange information and develop a collaborative programme on a range of issues including whale and dolphin strandings, disentanglement strategies, whale watching guidelines and whale research. The possibility of a shared data base to record whale sighting and stranding information on a regional basis is currently being investigated with a view to improving our collective knowledge and subsequent management responses to our shared migratory populations. This initiative could provide greater understanding of stranding events in the Pacific region.

Australia and New Zealand have been leading countries in the development of the CMS Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and their Habitats in the Pacific Region which was opened for signature at the SPREP 17th Environment Ministers meeting in Noumea in September 2006 and signed by nine countries, including Australia and New Zealand. As with whales, marine turtles are a key priority under CMS and Australia and New Zealand could work cooperatively towards ensuring their protection through the development of a Memorandum of Understanding for marine turtles under CMS.

Australia and New Zealand are leading efforts to conserve albatrosses and petrels through the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). New Zealand hosted the 2nd session of the Meeting of Parties last week. This meeting resulted in some significant milestones for the Agreement. The location of the headquarters was finalised and will be based in Hobart. Parties also discussed a range of programmes that provide international guidance on albatross and petrel conservation. An important milestone was reached with the number of parties ratifying the agreement reaching ten. Of particular importance is the recent ratification to the Agreement by Argentina, and by France and Chile in 2005.


ENDS

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