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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    JOINT STATEMENT
    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh
    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    MORETON BAY PROTECTED FOR THE FUTURE

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    MORETON BAY PROTECTED FOR THE FUTURE

    Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Sustainability Minister Andrew McNamara today announced a massive expansion of the “green zones”, in the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

    Sixteen per cent of the Marine Park, which stretches 125km from Caloundra to the Gold Coast Seaway, will be protected by green zones, up from the current half a per cent.

    The expansion, backed by a $21 million investment, will come into force on March 1, 2009.

    “This is a body of water unlike any other in Queensland - it’s on the doorstep of 2.5 million people who love it and use it intensely,” Ms Bligh said.

    “With this plan we protect more of Moreton Bay, we protect marine habitat and therefore marine species, and we protect the legitimate rights of recreational and commercial fishers.

    “This is about getting the balance right – so current and future generations can enjoy all the bay has to offer without loving it to death.

    “This is about protecting both environment and lifestyle.”

    The new zoning plan, which takes effect on March 1 2009, is based on extensive scientific research followed by months of consultation and negotiation with bay users and interest groups.

    “Queenslanders have tended to take Moreton Bay for granted, but this is a delicate ecosystem that needs our help before it’s too late,” Mr McNamara said.

    “Moreton Bay is home to 750 species of fish, 120 species of coral, an abundance of dolphins, migratory whales and the world's largest population of dugong next to a capital city.

    “The science told us that we had to protect a portion of every type of ecosystem in the bay – from the corals to the mangroves to the shorelines.

    “Every decision we have made has been shaped by feedback we’ve received from the local communities, businesses and individuals. There has been a lot of give and take to get a sensible balance.”

    “So we have acted today to protect tomorrow, without locking up the bay.”

    The final plan protects 16 per cent of Moreton Bay as green zones, an increase from the 15 per cent proposed in the draft plan released in December last year, after consultation with stakeholders.

    Fishing will not be allowed in the green zones, but is still permitted in eighty-four per cent of the park.

    The green zones will be open to boats and activities such as snorkelling and scuba-diving, and boaties can go anywhere.

    Other key elements include:

    A $15.1 million Structural Adjustment Program to buy licences from commercial fishers who voluntarily leave the industry, easing the stress on the bay’s fish population, and also for aquarium fishers.

    A trial of artificial reefs. Representatives of Queensland’s 430,000 anglers asked for artificial reefs to provide an alternative to green zones. One will be built on the existing Harry Atkinson Artificial Reef north of Peel Island; the sites for two others in the north of the bay are being assessed. The impacts of the reefs on the bay’s ecology will be closely monitored by the EPA.

    A total of eight purpose-built moorings in two sensitive coral reef areas at Flinders Reef and Flat Rock.

    Measures to look after some of Moreton Bay’s most iconic species such as turtles and dugong, with more go slow areas to help to reduce the risk of boat strikes.

    Eight extra officers to monitor and enforce the green zones.

    Two new boats and three new jet skis to strengthen enforcement and to install signs clearly marking green zones around special areas such as Cobby Cobby Island, Flat Rock, Swan Bay, Northern Banks, Flinders Reef, Peel Island, Amity Banks and Tripcony Bight.

    A five-year scientific monitoring program by the EPA in collaboration with research partners including CSIRO, The University of Queensland and Griffith University.

    Mr McNamara said the plan was finalised after the Environmental Protection Agency considered more than 8000 submissions, fielded 1100 hotline calls and conducted 10 public information sessions.

    Briefings were held with residents, traditional owners, environmental groups, fishing and boating bodies, and other bay users ranging from sporting hovercraft pilots and oyster growers.

    “It underlines how important this bay is to so many different people,” Mr McNamara said.

    For further information visit www.epa.qld.gov.au/moretonbay

    Media contacts:
    Premier’s Office - 3224 4500
    Minister’s Office - 3336 8004