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

6 March 2001

$530,000 FEDERAL FUNDING TO FIGHT TOXIC ALGAE OFF BRISBANE


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced $530,000 Natural Heritage Trust funding to stamp out a rare and highly toxic outbreak of blue-green algae killing seagrass and threatening marine life in Moreton Bay.

"Funding will go towards three projects to fight the latest outbreaks of Lyngbya, or Fireweed, near Bongaree and Amity Point. Fireweed can smother up to 200 square metres of seagrass every minute, destroying the habitat of threatened dugongs and marine turtles," Senator Hill said.

"The QLD National Parks and Wildlife Service has received $200,000 to trial clean up and control methods of Fireweed at Bongaree, near Deception Bay. Nets and other harvesting devices attached to commercial trawlers will be used to scrape tonnes of algae from the worst hit seagrass beds in the region.

"The Brisbane City Council will use $250,000 to reduce urban stormwater pollution flowing from Bridgewater Creek into the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay. Funding will be used to construct a wetland, gross pollutant traps, a sediment basin and a stormwater reuse facility.

"Bacteria and plants within the wetland will play a vital role in trapping and treating stormwater, nutrients and sediments, and will provide a good example of stormwater management for local authorities in other areas to reproduce.

"The South East Queensland Regional Water Quality Management Strategy has received $80,000 to study pollution sources that may be contributing to Fireweed blooms. These sources include acid sulfate soils, phosphates and organic materials produced by agricultural practices, sewage treatment plants and urban run-off.

"The study is particularly relevant for the long-term management of Fireweed, given that causes of these outbreaks are still largely unknown. Identifying and scientifically proving outbreak sources will help reinforce management strategies and statutory controls.

"Each of these projects will help fight the ever-worsening blue-green algal outbreaks in Queensland, which is the only state in Australia to experience Fireweed. Algal blooms affect the fragile marine environment, can cause asthma and skin and eye irritations in people, and reduce the valuable tourism and economic benefits that stem from clean seas."

The projects are funded under the fourth round of the Trust's Coasts and Clean Seas initiative, amounting to a total of $10,355,626 Trust funding committed to clean seas, coastal monitoring and marine species protection in Queensland.

A further six urban stormwater management projects in and around the Moreton Bay area have received $970,000 Commonwealth funding in previous Coasts and Cleans Seas funding rounds.

"The Trust depends heavily on community, industry and government groups identifying local environmental problems, and developing solutions that can be spread to and reproduced by other regions," Senator Hill said.

"The end result will be cleaner beaches, improved water quality and a better understanding of the impact of human and natural activities on marine biodiversity."

The Trust's $141 million Coasts and Clean Seas initiative is aimed at supporting the conservation, sustainable use and repair of Australia's coastal and marine environments.

For further information on the Coasts and Clean Seas initiative contact Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on toll-free 1800 803 772 or visit the website at www.environment.gov.au/marine/coast_clean_seas/

6 March 2001

Media contact:
Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill's Office): (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia