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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

SAVING OUR MARINE TURTLES


25 November 1997
(139/97)

The Federal Government is taking action to ensure the survival of threatened marine turtles in Australia's waters.

Australia's northern beaches and oceans are among the most important habitat in the world for six of the seven known marine turtle species, all of which are under threat.

A Recovery Team for Marine Turtles will meet for the first time over the next two days in Brisbane to discuss a cooperative approach within Australia to conserving the species.

The meeting is taking place ahead of the peak nesting period for Australia's marine turtles. Between now and the end of January, female turtles will come ashore to lay their eggs. The hatchlings take about two months to emerge from their nests.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says a joint approach between government, industry and the community is needed to prevent further falls in turtle numbers.

"Marine turtle conservation is a vital issue being addressed by Australia in the lead-up to the 1998 International Year of the Ocean.

"The turtles are an important part of marine ecosystems, and unless action is taken now to curb the factors threatening their survival, many species will become critically endangered.

"We will work with the States and Territories, industry and the public to address the worrying decline in populations of loggerhead, green, hawksbill, leatherback, olive ridley and flatback turtles in Australia's oceans."

The new recovery team includes representatives from Federal, State and Territory conservation agencies, industry, non-government organisations, CSIRO and other leading marine turtle experts.

The team will aim to produce a workable solution to conserving turtles in Commonwealth, State and Territory waters, and encourage all stakeholders to take urgent action.

Some of the issues to be addressed are the incidental take of turtles in nets and problems caused by plastic bags, cluster pack yokes and other marine debris.

Contact:
Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515
David Kay (Environment Australia) 02 6250 0766
25 November 1997
139/97

Commonwealth of Australia