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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
2 March 2005
Our migratory waterbirds, albatrosses and petrels will be better protected thanks to $1.3 million in funding from the Australian Government's $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust.
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, today said the money would be spent over two years on a range of conservation activities.
"The increase in threats to waterbirds and seabirds is of major concern, and we need practical, coordinated solutions to halt their decline," Senator Campbell said.
"More than two million migratory waterbirds visit this country each year through the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The Australian Government recognises the importance of regional cooperation throughout the Flyway, so we've proposed - along with the Government of Japan and Wetlands International - to develop a Migratory Waterbird Partnership.
"Representatives from 20 countries and other organisations recently met in the Republic of Korea, and agreed this Partnership would be valuable for migratory waterbird protection."
The Natural Heritage Trust funding announced today will also be used for activities such as migration research, population monitoring support, publications and the creation of a new national wildlife conservation plan.
Waterbirds include many groups such as shorebirds, waterfowl (ducks and geese), seabirds (terns and gulls) and others (herons and egrets). Shorebirds are the main group of migratory waterbirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway that regularly visit Australia.
Senator Campbell said that albatrosses and petrels also need our help, with 83 per cent of the total 24 species of albatross considered endangered.
"These magnificent birds are threatened globally at sea and on land, by some fishing operations, entanglement in marine debris and pollution. The Australian Government has provided $300,000 for scientific research into seabird behaviour and ecology, with some of the funding to go towards an intensive satellite tracking program," he said.
"It will also be used to examine the distribution of Flesh-footed Shearwaters, a major component of bycatch in Australia's open sea tuna fisheries."
Senator Campbell said the Australian Government would continue to address seabird deaths in longline fisheries through its Threat Abatement Plan, which is currently being revised. Australia was the first nation in the world to develop this type of plan within its national legislation.
Around 19 of the 24 species of albatross occur in Australian waters, with five - the Black-browed Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Shy Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross - also breeding here.
For more information about seabird conservation visit www.aad.gov.au, and for more information about waterbirds visit http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/migratory/waterbirds/index.html
Senator Campbell's office: Renae Stoikos on 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434