Wednesday, 18 November 2009 3:23 PM

Australian Environment Minister in Honiara

Environment Minister Peter Garrett today departed for Solomon Islands to plan the next phase of action on protecting marine biodiversity and the vulnerable coastal communities whose livelihoods are dependent on maintaining the health of the remarkable Coral Triangle.

"The Coral Triangle is recognised as an area of global environmental significance, with the greatest marine biological diversity on the planet," Mr Garrett said.

"I am very pleased to be attending the 2nd Ministerial meeting of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security to look at ways of building the resilience of this marine environment to the impacts climate change."

Located adjacent to Australia's northern waters, the Coral Triangle contains seventy five per cent of the world's known coral species, one third of the world's coral reef area, and more than 3,000 species of fish. Astoundingly, 240 million people are dependent on this ocean wealth for food and livelihoods.

"This Initiative has an important role in building awareness on ocean vulnerability and reducing the impacts of climate change.

"Australia is very pleased to be involved with the six countries that form this unique partnership - Indonesia, Timor Leste, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

"Since the Initiative was first formed in the margins of the Bali climate talks in 2007, these six countries have been working cooperatively to preserve their ocean wealth, and secure a healthy marine system for current and future generations," Mr Garrett said.

"The CTI have established cooperative working mechanisms across the region, produced a CTI Regional Plan of Action and six National Plans of Action, all in less than two years.

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By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province