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Coastcare sends an S.O.S. - Save Our Shorebirds!

Media Release

1 December 2000

Did you know that every time you go to the beach you could be harming or even killing our shorebirds and seabirds, just by walking in the sand or leaving litter behind?

Coastcare is issuing an S.O.S. to all Australians to help 'Save Our Shorebirds' by learning about and helping to protect our unique coastal bird life during Coastcare Week (1-7 December 2000).

According to Coastcare Week spokesperson Mimi Macpherson, Australia's shorebirds are under increasing pressure from human activity and coastal development.

"Shorebirds such as Hooded Plovers and Pied Oystercatchers, and seabirds such as penguins, and pelicans can die from entanglement in fishing line, plastic bags and plastics such as 'six-pack' packaging and drink bottle rings and sadly their homes are under threat from increasing urban development', Ms Macpherson said.

"Seventy percent of coastal birds rescued by volunteer groups such as the Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES) had fishing line entanglement or hook injuries. Pelicans are notorious for swallowing discarded fishing hooks. These birds are very difficult to catch and treat before infection sets in.

"Many shorebirds and seabirds feed and nest in Australia during the summer, when many Australians holiday and actively use the coast for swimming, fishing and other recreational activities", Ms Macpherson said.

"Coastcare encourages beach goers to always walk on the wet sand to avoid destroying shorebird nests and always keep dogs on a leash to protect vulnerable eggs and chicks. Also, make sure you take your litter home with you, especially fishing line."

It is not just resident shorebirds and seabirds that face peril living in Australia. Two million migratory shorebirds regularly visit our shores between September and April. They also face threats from predators, urban development and humans.

"Migratory shorebirds are the world's best travelled migrants with some species travelling up to 25,000 km every year to enjoy an endless summer. They leave Australia in March and April every year to travel to Siberia, Alaska and the Arctic Circle to breed during the Northern Hemisphere summer. Their travel routes are called 'flyways' and it is important for everyone to conserve the feeding, breeding and resting habitats of these birds as they fly across the world," Ms Macpherson said.

Coming on board in time for Coastcare Week are two new Coastcare sponsors, Land Rover Australia (launching a national Coastcare photo competition and a Responsible 4 Wheel Drive education campaign), and Kana Communications. Other leading corporations continuing their support for Coastcare include Pioneer International, The Uncle Tobys Company and Adshel.

Ms Macpherson said, "It's important not to disturb any birds along our coast or on our islands. Migratory shorebirds in particular need to eat and rest in preparation for their migration. One or two disturbances can reduce their eating/resting time by up to 20 minutes per day, which could result in them not being strong enough for their trip home."

"Across Australia nearly 60,000 Coastcare volunteers are involved in projects and awareness raising activities to help protect our coast. Coastcare Week is a great opportunity for all Australians to get involved in the protection and conservation of our beaches, oceans and coastal wildlife." Ms Macpherson said.

Coastcare is a program of the Federal's Government's Natural Heritage Trust initiative in partnership with State/Territory and Local Governments. It is a national program that supports community involvement in coastal management and protection. Community grants and a network of 30 Facilitators around the country help the community to get involved in projects such as dune rehabilitation, coastal planning and marine monitoring.

For more information on Coastcare and Australia's resident and migratory shorebirds, please call Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772 or visit the web site at: www.deh.gov.au/coasts/coastcare

Media enquiries to:

Suzy Upcroft
Media & Communication Officer
Landcare Australia
Ph: (02) 9412 1040 M: 0414 323 615

Sarah Chalkley
National Coastcare Manager
Environment Australia
M: 0409 827 752

For interviews with Mimi Macpherson, please call Ross Woodward at Media Key on (03) 9781 5140

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