Remarks - Our Ocean’s Conference Bali 29 October 2018

October 29, 2018


Well thank you very much John and I just want to acknowledge from the outset your vision, your leadership, your passions for oceans and I recognise that this conference was initiated by you.

You brought your childhood passion for the ocean, developed as a young sailor onto the world stage as the Secretary of State and before that a Senator and you’ve enabled, I think to galvanise an enormous amount of global action to take better care of the largest part of our planet, which is our oceans.

Now over the past 6 months, Australia which is of course an island nation, quite a large island nation, has significantly enhanced our marine protection. In July, we established 5 new Australian Marine Park management plans to cover an additional 2.3 million square kilometres of Australian waters. It means that Australia now has 60 marine protected areas covering a total of 3.2 million square kilometres. It’s the largest representative marine protected area network in the world, and it provides protection to over a third of Australia’s jurisdictional waters, securing strong biodiversity and sustainable outcomes that will benefit future generations. Not only reaches, but clearly exceeds local commitments, to protect 10 percent of our coastal and marine areas. The government has allocated A$56 million to implement these management arrangements including engaging of course with the community of scientists and industry that the previous speaker spoke very well, eloquently about the importance of engaging with the community.

Australian marine parks reflect all of the diversity of our enormous nation; from the tropical coral reefs of the north, to the Sub-Antarctic communities of the south. The system of parks includes large world heritage areas and Ramsar sites, which as you know, are wetlands of international importance. Almost 70 percent of our Australian marine parks have been given a high level of protection at the same time as we ensure benefits to sustainable fishing and tourism. A sustainable ocean economy can be built only by first ensuring we have healthy ocean ecosystems and John, every speaker reinforced that in this session. Of all our marine parks of course the best known is the Great Barrier Reef, and Australians just call it ‘the reef’. Like reefs all over the world however, the Great Barrier Reef is under a lot of pressure. Particularly from warmer water temperatures, from global warming and the change in the chemistry of the ocean about which Secretary Kerry spoke so passionately and knowledgably, earlier today.

Now we have made, the government, has made its largest single ever investment in reef protection, more than half a billion dollars to support its health and resilience. The Australian and Queensland State governments, in partnership with experts from conservation and industry, Indigenous communities and other groups have detailed a 35-year ‘Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan’ for the Great Barrier Reef. The plan sets out high priority activities that are needed to build the health and resilience of the reef in the face of a changing climate. The challenges facing the reef of course demand more than government-only support. This new partnership will broaden the opportunities for both public and private funding for reef protection.

I want to acknowledge the great work that is being done by so many philanthropists and philanthropically supported foundations to support the reef.

Now to raise a further philanthropic investment, the government has entered into an innovative partnership with the not-for-profit Great Barrier Reef foundation, referred to just a moment ago.

In addition to its wonderful natural value, the reef supports 64,000 jobs and generates A$6.4 billion annually into the regional economy.

Now looking outwards to neighbours who also manage extensive coral reef regions, including our friends in the Pacific, so many of whom are represented here today. We are after all a pacific island, well also an Indian Ocean Island, a big island, but we know that our neighbours in the Pacific face huge challenges in terms of reef management and challenges, where they don't have the same economic resources that Australia has to deal with its marine challenges. So, that is why we need to work closely together and continue to provide strong support.

We value our international partnerships. We’ve allocated A$2 million to support co-hosting the International Coral Reef Initiative, working with Indonesia and Monaco.

Now the A$500 million commitment of new funding is entirely focused on protection of the reef and is addressing a range of local pressures that will ensure sustainable use. Improving water quality is absolutely essential. Working with farmers to reduce fertilizer and pesticide run-off into the ocean and improve land use practices to prevent soil erosion. There is a whole range of measures, many of them are obvious and practical but nonetheless, all taking take time and money to deliver.

Removing or eradicating as far as we can the crown of thorns starfish is critically important and we are applying the best science to do that, it does so much damage to coral reefs. And all of us working closely with Indigenous communities to improve the management to protect the area.

We are allocating a further A$100 million to continue, to our science community to continue their work to develop corals that are more resilient in the face of warmer water.

Again, harking back to what John Kerry said earlier today, the ocean is getting warmer, considerably so, even if all of the great objectives of the Paris Climate Treaty were achieved, and the political resistance if you like to action on climate change evaporated, nonetheless there is a huge amount of warming in the system already.

So we have to live with that and do everything we can to ensure the reefs are more resilient. A lot of that work is being done by AIMS at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville.

Plastic waste is obviously an enormous agenda issue and it's being discussed here at this conference. We're announcing today that we're providing up to A$5 million to the Tangaroa Blue Foundation, working in partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia to deliver community clean up events and education awareness raising activities to reduce marine debris across the Great Barrier Reef region over the next five years.

And in that region the Tangaroa Blue Foundation has worked with over 1000 partners more than 120,000 volunteers to remove over 1000 tonnes of marine debris from the Australian coastline.

These community efforts are enormously important, not only do they clean up beaches, estuaries and waterways, but they also raise awareness so that people and communities are going to be less likely to allow debris to get into the waterways in the future.

I just want to acknowledge today the extraordinary work the great Australian Conservationist, who like you John a sailor, Ian Kiernan, who died recently, who founded Clean Up Australia, a really enormous national community clean up movement.

Now Australia has the third largest marine domain and we have been and always will be a world leader in marine park protection and management and a strong arm for everybody here. So, thank you John. I want to thank our hosts, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his Ministers, Retno and Susi for their terrific support. I want to wish everybody a very successful Ocean’s Conference. Thank you.


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