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Pledge for national plan to splash out on ocean health

Australia is about to get its first national plan to manage ocean health in the face of unprecedented commercial and other pressures.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek will announce the development of a sustainable oceans plan at the Ocean Business Leaders' Summit in Sydney on Wednesday.

It will take into account impacts from industries, such as fisheries, and emerging ones like renewable offshore energy, to create the nation's first overarching framework for ocean management.

A national gathering of key stakeholders will be held later this year to kick-start the process.

"That means industry and scientists and conservationists and traditional owners, all together, all in the same room, all contributing to the same conversation," the minister will say on Wednesday.

"We can't succeed in truly protecting it unless we work across national borders and across the many uses of our ocean."

The minister will also announce a new partnership with mining billionaire Andrew Forrest's philanthropic Minderoo Foundation, focused on its use of DNA technology to quickly work out what is living in the ocean and where.

The federal government will add $3.4 million to the $8.4 million Minderoo is putting up for a two-year project focused on the West Australian coast and four marine parks.

Minderoo has been able to repurpose high-throughput genetic sequencing gear usually found in sophisticated labs for use on research vessels.

It means seawater can be quickly screened for fragments of DNA shed by marine life, offering a quick way to monitor species at scale, and also identify places of high ecological value.

"This is a pivotal moment in response to a planetary emergency," says Dr Forrest who will also address Wednesday's gathering of ocean economy stakeholders, including leaders from business, finance, research, science and government.