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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
4 October 1996
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has committed more than $600,000 toward efforts to protect dugongs in the Great Barrier Reef area.
Senator Hill has told a meeting of the Great Barrier Reef Dugong Review Group that it must identify and implement emergency measures designed to eliminate or at least substantially reduce dugong mortality in the Great Barrier Reef area.
"Australia has a special responsibility for dugong conservation. That responsibility rests largely with the groups represented here today - the scientists, Aboriginal groups, the fishing industry, community groups and State and Federal Governments."
Senator Hill has acknowledged the efforts made so far by stakeholders to conserve dugong numbers.
"The efforts made to date are a start. They are, however, clearly not enough. Unless all parties take urgent and significant additional action we face the very real prosect of dugongs disappearing from areas of the Queensland coast."
Senator Hill has told the Group the Commonwealth is ready to act if the stakeholders can't produce a package of measures to prevent the decline of dugong numbers.
"I want to emphasise the Commonwealth's commitment to dugong conservation. If all interested parties cannot voluntarily and cooperatively take the necessary action to protect dugong then the Commonwealth will be left with no option - it will need to take further action itself.
"The Commonwealth has various options available to it - including creating sanctuaries under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act or taking action under the Endangered Species Protection Act and the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act.
"I trust that resort to these measures will not be necessary. However the fate of the dugong in the Southern Great Barrier Reef is precarious and without further decisive action by the stakeholders represented here today the Commonwealth will need to examine all of the options available to it."
Senator Hill has outlined the Commonwealth's $633,000 commitment to dugong conservation efforts.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will contribute $420,000 of this amount comprising;
Under another funding arrangement with the Queensland Government, the Commonwealth will contribute;
The CRC Reef Research Centre at James Cook University will also be contributing at least $63,000 this year to dugong and habitat research programs.
Further Details - Matt Brown 0419 693 515