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Media Release
Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

7 December 2004

Sea stars win $5000 Minister’s award

The efforts of hundreds of volunteers to eradicate an invasive sea pest from their local waters on Victoria's Gippsland coast have been recognised with the $5000 Minister for the Environment's Award for Coastal Custodians.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, announced today that the Seastar 2004 Team from Inverloch had won the award from a field of 30 nominations.

“The Seastar 2004 Team is a truly grassroots community effort that has paid off for its volunteers,'' Senator Campbell said.

“The Team has shown that with hard work and common sense, it is possible to rid its local waters of the Northern Pacific Seastar, which has established itself elsewhere with devastating effect.

“Several hundred people including volunteer divers, fishermen, boaties and their support crews put their local knowledge to the test in a copybook example of coastal custodianship.

“The $5000 award will assist with future monitoring work and hopefully there will never be a need to eradicate the seastars from this area again.''

Tasmania's Derwent River and Victoria's Port Phillip Bay have both been infested with the Northern Pacific Seastar, which originates from the Northern Hemisphere. It has been found to devastate native shellfish and disrupt the marine food chain. The Seastar Team used scientific surveys to identify and remove concentrations of the pests before they had a chance to spawn.

The Minister's Award for Coastal Custodians is in its third year and is growing in recognition among marine and coastal communities around Australia.

“The objective of this award is to encourage a culture of custodianship among Australians for their coastal and marine environments and to foster cooperation between people and groups to achieve this,'' Senator Campbell said.

“The Seastar 2004 Team has set a tremendous example of cooperation''.

Media Contacts:
Senator Campbell's office: Wayne Grant (02) 6277 7640 or 0407 845 280
National Oceans Office: Richard Wilson (03) 6221 5000 or 0419 699 682

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