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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

19 December 2000

IMPROVED PROTECTION FROM INTRODUCED MARINE PESTS


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced $527,000 Natural Heritage Trust funding for three projects aimed at improving Australia's capacity to protect its oceans and coastal environments from introduced marine pests.

Senator Hill said the projects would help develop emergency response skills for marine pests, focus management actions to reduce invasions of marine pests and develop a single ballast water management regime in Australia.

"Introduced marine pests pose a very serious risk to our marine biodiversity and marine-based industries as they have long-term environmental and economic consequences," Senator Hill said.

"Exotic marine pests, such as the Northern Pacific seastar and black striped mussel, cause reduced biodiversity and damage to Australia's marine-based industries. Today's funding will have a major impact in containing the threat by helping us gain essential information on how these pests come into Australia, how they spread and how they should be prevented or contained."

Funding of $357,000 has been made available to establish a demonstration project for implementing a single National Ballast Water Management Regime. This will be backed up by a further $585,000 from the Victorian Government, the Commonwealth Quarantine Inspection Service and the CSIRO Centre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests.

"The black striped mussel outbreak in Darwin harbour in 1999 was a stark example of how prone Australia is to invasion by foreign marine species which are brought here on the hulls of vessels of all sizes and in ballast water. It is vitally important to Australia's quarantine and environment protection to implement a unified national system for ballast water management to deal with pest incursions and the potential for these to spread from infected sites," Senator Hill said.

A project to establish a National Emergency Response System for Marine Pests has received $95,000 funding. The System will establish operational procedures for the Consultative Committee on Introduced Marine Pests Emergencies (CCIMPE) to enhance Australia's national emergency response to marine pest incursions.

"Further funding of $75,000 will help the National Office of Animal and Plant Health develop a geographic information system (GIS) model for shipping vessels and other likely carriers with the potential to introduce and spread marine pests in Australia," Senator Hill said.

The Introduced Marine Pests Program is part of the Trust's $125 million Coasts and Cleans Seas initiative.

December 19, 2000

Contacts:
Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill's Office) 08 82377920 or 0419 258 364
Warren Geeves (Environment Australia) 02 6274 1453

Commonwealth of Australia