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


26 March 1999

A program to protect dugongs through increased surveillance and enforcement of sanctuaries along the Queensland coast is bearing encouraging results.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill said a grant of $230,000 had seen an unprecedented level of aerial and sea surveillance along the Great Barrier Reef and Hervey Bay Dugong Protection Areas.

According to Senator Hill, nearly 1200 vessels were boarded by government officials in the six months prior to January this year. They apprehended 28 people, issued 32 cautions and seized eight unattended nets.

"This is the world's first chain of dugong sanctuaries and the Federal Government is committed to ensure their integrity is protected," Senator Hill said.

"A further $3.4 million from the Commonwealth over three years promised prior to the last Federal election will ensure even more effective surveillance in future.

"The initial results are certainly encouraging with a drop in the number of reported dugong deaths. 29 were recorded last year compared to 35 in 1996 and 34 in 1997.

"While this is an encouraging sign, I'm confident we can reduce this toll even further by continuing our efforts to address the full range of threats to dugongs."

"A status report also suggests that there is a high level of compliance with the new net fishing restrictions within Dugong Protection Areas."

Senator Hill said the effectiveness of the Dugong Protection Areas would be subject to ongoing review.

"The Marine Park Authority proposes to fund another survey of dugongs in the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef later this year," Senator Hill said.

For more information:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill's office) 04 111 28582
John Camplin (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) 07 4750 0700

Commonwealth of Australia