The Torres Strait Baseline Study: Environmental Protection of a Tropical Marine Environment in Northern Australia

by D. Lawrence, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Townsville,
I. J. Dight, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Townsville,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '91

Abstract: This paper discusses the potential impacts of mining in the Fly River catchment area of Papua New Guinea on the Torres Strait marine environment and the customary ways of life of the Torres Strait Islander and coastal Papuan peoples, perceptions of concerns among environmentalists and commercial fishermen in Australia, as well as the nature and operation of the Torres Strait Baseline Study scientific programme. The baseline study will determine levels of trace metals in selected marine organisms, sediments, and seawater in the Torres Strait region which separates Australia and Papua New Guinea. The programme has been funded by the Commonwealth of Australia, and is being coordinated by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in Townsville, in response to possible trace metal pollution from the Ok Tedi copper mine located nearly 1200 km from the study site. Besides being a major commercial fisheries area, the Torres Strait is the traditional home to Australia's only Melanesian minority group, the Torres Strait Islanders, whose customary rights are protected by an international treaty.

Subject Headings: Seas and oceans | Tropical regions | Sea water | Metals (chemical) | Mines and mining | Water pollution | Developing countries | Sediment | Rivers and streams | Australia | Papua New Guinea

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