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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

20 May 2003

Federal Environment Minister Visits Roebuck Bay


Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, with the Member for Kalgoorlie, Barry Haase, today visited the internationally important migratory shorebird habitat of Roebuck Bay as part of a tour of Broome and the region. Dr Kemp said the Bay is home to an immense population of migratory shorebirds that fly up to 30,000 kilometres per year to and from breeding grounds in eastern Siberia.

"Along with 80-mile Beach and the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Roebuck Bay region is one of the most important habitats for migratory shorebirds in Australia. It supports up to 170,000 migratory shorebirds at a time, including over 40 species of waders - nearly a quarter of the world's total wader species," Dr Kemp said.

"This is because the Bay offers an unusually high abundance and diversity of mud-dwelling food such as marine worms and molluscs."

Migratory bird life found at Roebuck Bay includes the Eastern Curlew, Great Knot, Grey-tailed Tattler, Greater Sand Plover and the Red-necked Stint.

In 1990, Roebuck Bay was designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention). It is one of five internationally important shorebirds sites in Australia that are the focus of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Shorebird Conservation Project funded under the Federal Government's $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

"The WWF Project has received $920,000 over the past two years for activities involving the community in shorebird habitat conservation activities and conserving and managing important shorebird sites," Mr Haase said.

"The Natural Heritage Trust has also provided $8636 to the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union through the Australian Government Envirofund for interpretive signage to educate people about the importance of Roebuck Bay as a Ramsar-listed coastal wetland. Simple activities such as signage help increase community awareness and can inspire people to look after their local environment.

"Natural Heritage Trust funding has contributed towards a number of conservation projects in the region, including the production of a book about the ecology of Roebuck Bay.

"These activities are part of the $1 million I announced on World Wetlands Day on 2 February this year for the conservation of migratory shorebirds."

This funding also included core support for the Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds in the East Asian - Australasian Flyway. The Action Plan is promoting cooperation by all countries the Flyway to conserve and manage important habitat for shorebirds.

"The East Asian-Australasian Flyway starts at breeding grounds in Northern China, Mongolia, Siberia and Alaska and covers twenty countries in East Asia and the Pacific, before arriving in Australia and New Zealand. Roebuck Bay is not only one of the most important migratory shorebirds site of Australia but indeed the whole Flyway," Dr Kemp said.

Media Contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia