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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
15 April 2005
The Australian Government has signed an agreement with Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory supporting a national approach to protecting Australia's waters from introduced marine pests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Warren Truss, and Environment Minister Senator Ian Campbell, announced today.
Mr Truss, who signed the agreement in Darwin at the 8th Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council meeting in Darwin (15 April 2005), said that South Australia had also signalled its support, and would be signing on shortly.
Mr Truss said he and Senator Campbell looked forward to the other States also coming on board.
"The Intergovernmental Agreement on a National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions represents a significant milestone in protecting Australia's marine industries and environment from invasive marine pests," he said.
"The growing volume of trade - much of it transported by ship - and the increasing number of international visitors, means that it is vital Australia takes a national approach to tackling the associated risk of introduced marine pests," he said.
Senator Campbell said this new agreement sets out a framework for managing ballast water and biofouling to significantly reduce the risk of marine pests invading Australia's waters.
"It will also help ensure our emergency management and control measures are as effective as possible."
Senator Campbell said that Australia's major marine assets, such as the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a host of important industries, are under threat from introduced pests.
"The northern Pacific seastar, for example, is in Tasmanian waters and Victoria's Port Phillip Bay.
"It spreads quickly and can cause significant damage to our fragile marine environment - just as terrestrial pests such as cane toads must be managed, so too must introduced marine pests," he said.
Mr Truss said it was significant that the signing had taken place in Darwin, as the invasion and successful eradication of the black-striped mussel in 1999 provided the impetus for developing the national approach.
"The mussel invaded three marinas in Darwin in March 1999, after probably arriving on the hull of a foreign boat," he said.
"It cost $3 million to eradicate the pest - a significant amount of money in any one's language - but not when you consider that marine industries worth hundreds of millions of dollars and employing thousands of Australians are at stake," Mr Truss said.
Much has already been done to develop the national system, and both ministers commended Australia's marine industries and conservation groups for their support and involvement in finding a solution this complex situation.
The Australian Government provided $3.7 million over three years in the 2004-05 Budget to develop the national system, and will provide a further $3 million over two years - until 2006 - from the Natural Heritage Trust.
The Howard/Anderson Government will also be working closely with the States, the Northern Territory and industry to develop the cost-sharing arrangements needed to implement the National System.
A backgrounder on the Intergovernmental Agreement on a National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions is attached.
Also attached are fact sheets on introduced marine pests, developing a national approach to fighting invasive marine pests and the intergovernmental agreement itself.
Renae Stoikos (Senator Campbell's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434
Kylie Butler (Truss's office) 02 6277 7520 or 0417 652 488
The signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement on a National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions in Darwin is a milestone in controlling marine pests keeping them out of Australia's waters.
The IGA will ensure a coordinated approach to managing introduced pests that will involve all key stakeholders - the Australian, state and Northern Territory governments, marine industries, researchers and conservation organisations.
The invasion and successful eradication of the black-striped mussel in Darwin in 1999 was a major trigger for developing a national system and led to the 'National Taskforce on the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions' being established that year.
The Taskforce proposed the development of a National System for the Prevention and Management of Introduced Marine Pests, with three main components:
The formation of a High Level Officials Working Group (HLG) in November 2002 began the process of finding a way forward on the key issues of funding, governance and legislative structures for the National System.
Since then, much work has been done to develop the National System. For example:
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is coordinating the development of the National System.
Stakeholder groups have been consulted and involved in the process through the National Introduced Marine Pests Coordination Group (NIMPCG), chaired by DAFF. NIMPCG is responsible for developing and implementing the National System and comprises representatives from:
The Intergovernmental Agreement establishes the responsibilities of governments for funding and legislation under a nationally-consistent approach and the National System is expected to be fully in place before October 2006.
What is an introduced marine pest?
Introduced marine pests are marine species (including plants and animals), which are not native to Australia and become a pest in the Australian environment. They can have a significant impact on marine industries, the marine environment, coastal communities and our economy.
It is estimated that more than 250 exotic marine species have been introduced into Australian waters, although not all have become pests. Some that have invaded Australian waters include broccoli weed (NSW, Tas and Vic), the Asian mussel (Tas, Vic and WA ), the black-striped mussel (eradicated from the NT ), the Caribbean tubeworm (Qld), the giant fan worm (NSW, SA, Tas, Vic and WA ) and the northern pacific seastar (Tas and Vic).
How do marine pests get here?
Marine pests have been described as 'hitchhikers' as they can be spread by attaching themselves to boat hulls, anchor chains, fishing gear, recreational equipment and internal compartments of boats, which is known as biofouling. Pests can also be transported in seawater systems of boats, including inside pipes and in bilge and ballast water.
Why are introduced marine pests a problem?
Introduced marine pests can cause significant harm to marine industries, such as fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, ports and tourism. For example, the northern pacific seastar is a voracious predator of commercially-farmed shellfish and therefore has a huge impact on aquaculture. Marine pests can radically change the habitat of wild seafood species. Boat hulls fouled with marine pests move more slowly through the water and use more fuel.
Marine pests can be very costly to eradicate. For example, the black-striped mussel invaded three marinas in Darwin in March 1999, possibly arriving on the hull of a visiting international boat. The mussel cost $3 million to eradicate in order to protect industries worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This is one of few examples of successful marine pest eradication. The eradication of tens of thousands of northern pacific seastars has had little effect on the overall population, which is estimated to have reached 12 million two years after being detected in Port Phillip Bay.
Introduced marine pests also have a significant impact on the environment. For example, the northern pacific seastar can spread rapidly and may prey on, or compete with, and displace native species, affecting food chains. Marine pests can severely affect biodiversity, marine habitats and rare and endangered species. By damaging marine habitats, marine pests can reduce all Australians' enjoyment of coastal and marine environments.
There has been significant progress in developing several components of the National System, such as the management of biofouling and ballast water. Biofouling and ballast water are major threats in the fight against invasive marine pests.
It is expected the National System will be developed to the point of implementation before October 2006.
Australia leads the world in ballast water management. We are one of the few countries to formulate and adopt effective ballast water management measures to minimise the risk of introducing harmful aquatic species to our waters.
Ships coming from overseas must not release foreign ballast water into Australian waters unless it has been properly exchanged at sea.
Australian ballast water management requirements are consistent with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) guidelines. Recently, the Australian Government, along with other IMO members, agreed to the text of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (the Convention).
The Convention provides for the international implementation of ballast water management arrangements similar to those implemented in Australia, by all IMO members.
Biofouling occurs when marine life, such as algae or barnacles attaches to any surface, including hulls, anchors or fishing gear. Once attached, pests can be moved into and around Australia.
Draft guidelines have been developed for the fishing sector to minimise biofouling and reduce the risk of marine pests being transported. The guidelines address the use of fishing vessels and gear and cover best management practices to minimise marine pest translocation risks.
Guidelines are being developed for other marine sectors, including:
Implementation of these guidelines will be based on regulations, biofouling certification, codes of conduct and protocols. Consultation and further risk assessments required for developing the guidelines are underway.
The Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) is coordinating the management and control of marine pests that are already in Australia. The development of National Control Plans will be the key mechanism for ongoing management and control of marine species identified as having a potential or actual significant impact on the marine environment or marine industries.
The Control Plans will include objectives and actions for pest control, research and development priorities and administrative arrangements for implementing a national approach. They will ensure that the impacts associated with a pest introduction are managed cost effectively.
Interim arrangements for emergency responses to outbreaks of introduced marine pests have been in place for three and a half years and are coordinated by the Consultative Committee on Introduced Marine Pest Emergencies (CCIMPE).
When an incursion or significant new translocation of an introduced marine pest is found, CCIMPE convenes to consider pest eradication action.
These arrangements are currently being reviewed and refined. Interim cost-sharing arrangements between Australian Government and the state and Northern Territory governments are also in place.
The purpose of the Intergovernmental Agreement on a National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions is to outline a framework to develop, implement and continually improve the National System. The National System will protect Australia's marine industries and environment from the devastating effects of introduced marine pests.
The Intergovernmental Agreement contains the National System's objectives which are to:
The parties signing the Agreement agree on the management measures to be implemented under the National System and that it will be underpinned by a risk management approach.
The Agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities for implementing the three elements of the National System - prevention, emergency management and ongoing management and control - as well as several supporting arrangements.
Signatories also agree that stakeholder engagement is vital to the developing and implementing the National System.
The Agreement also details arrangements for the oversight, coordination and evaluation of the National System.
Further information: www.daff.gov.au/invasivemarinespecies