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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Hon Mal Brough MP
Federal Member for Longman

24 September 2004

$1 million to tackle Lyngbya in Moreton Bay

A toxic outbreak of blue-green algae killing seagrass and threatening marine life along the Bribie coast will be tackled head on thanks to more than $1 million from the Coalition Government's Natural Heritage Trust.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Federal Member for Longman, Mal Brough, said the money would fund a project to develop ways to manage Lyngbya, also known as 'fireweed'.

"2300 tonnes of lyngbya have been dumped on the beaches of Deception Bay and Bribie Island this year, threatening the safety of Moreton Bay and its coastline," Senator Campbell said.

"Lyngbya can devastate coastal ecosystems. When in bloom conditions, it forms dense mats that cover the sea floor, smothering underlying seagrass meadows. These meadows provide important nursery habitat for juvenile fish and prawns, feeding grounds for birds, and are a critical habitat for dugongs, adult green turtles and many commercial fish and invertebrates.

"While there has been successful research into the biology of lyngbya, there are gaps in our knowledge of why these outbreaks occur and spread so rapidly. This project, coordinated by the Moreton Bay Waterways and Catchments Partnership, will provide a scientific basis for managing lyngbya," Senator Campbell said.

"Today's investment of $1 million over three years to tackle lyngbya comes on top of more than $4.5 million the Australian Government has invested in environmental works in the Longman electorate since 1996."

Mr Brough said lyngbya posed a significant economic threat to the communities of south-east Queensland.

"Lyngbya outbreaks directly affect commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, and possible future land development in the coastal zone," he said.

"Lyngbya is also a contact irritant that can produce skin and eye irritation following direct contact so there are human health implications which also need to be considered.

"As part of this project, monitoring will be undertaken across the Caboolture/Pumicestone Passage catchment, research will be undertaken into land, surface water and groundwater conditions that may trigger outbreaks and laboratory testing will take place to measure lyngbya growth patterns.

"The results will assist in the management of lyngbya and will help protect our local community from further devastating outbreaks."

Commonwealth of Australia