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

LIFELINE FOR AUSTRALIA'S MARINE TURTLES


14 April 1998
(38/98)

The Howard Government is stepping up efforts to save one of Australia's most-loved marine creatures during the 1998 International Year of the Ocean.

Environment Minister Robert Hill has ordered the preparation of a Turtle Recovery Plan, which will guide national efforts to save Australia's threatened marine turtles.

Senator Hill says the national plan to conserve marine turtles, the first in Australia, should be ready by mid-year.

"Five of the six species of marine turtles found in Australian waters are considered nationally threatened, including the Loggerhead Turtle which is endangered.

"When complete, the comprehensive Turtle Recovery Plan will cover all six species which occur in Australia's oceans and guide a concerted national effort to turn around the decline of these species.

"The government is working with turtle experts, representatives from State and Territory conservation agencies, the CSIRO, industry, indigenous groups and non-government organisations to maximise the survival chances of these species in the wild."

Senator Hill says marine turtles have lived in Australian waters for more than 100 million years and are an important part of our marine ecosystems.

"The major threats to marine turtles include loss of habitat, entanglement in marine debris, accidental drowning resulting from trawling and the predation of turtle eggs and hatchlings by feral animals. These are the types of issues the plan will attempt to address."

There are seven species of marine turtles in the world and of these six occur in Australia. Some of the largest marine turtle nesting areas in the Indo-Pacific region are in Australia. The world's only nesting populations of the Flatback Turtle are in northern Australia.

The preparation of the National Turtle Recovery Plan is being funded through the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust.

Contact:
Matt Brown (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515
Gerry Maynes (Environment Australia) 02 6250 0782
14 April 1998
(38/98)

Commonwealth of Australia