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

SEAHORSES RECEIVE NATIONAL PROTECTION


5 September 1997
(101/97)

The first ever restrictions on exporting some of Australia's most quirky marine life have been introduced by the Howard Government.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says that from 1 January 1998 exports of all species of seahorses, sea dragons and pipefishes (collectively called syngnathids) found in Australian waters will be stringently controlled.

"The Howard Government is committed to the protection of Australia's threatened marine life and to ensuring the harvest of any marine species is sustainable.

"These extraordinary creatures are the first marine fish in Australian waters to receive this high level of protection.

"Populations of seahorses, sea dragons and pipefishes have declined dramatically in many parts of the world through uncontrolled and excessive trade.

"Half of the world's 220 known species of syngnathids occur in Australian waters.

"There is a strong demand for syngnathids for use in traditional Asian medicines and from the aquarium industry.

"The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service estimates 1 500 kilograms of syngnathids, or more than
150 000 specimens, were exported from Australia between July 1995 and January 1997.

"The decision to protect these species is a precautionary measure by Australia, which acknowledges the worldwide concern over the exploitation of syngnathids.

"Any exports of the syngnathid species must now be accompanied by a permit from Environment Australia.

"Permits will only be granted for captive bred specimens or specimens which have been taken from the wild under an approved management regime."

5 September 1997

Contact: Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 0419 693 515 or 02 6277 7640
David Kay (Environment Australia) 02 6250 0766
101/97

Commonwealth of Australia