New alliance pressures Feds to save tropical sealife
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29 June 2011

New alliance pressures Feds to save tropical sealife

As the deadline looms for a government announcement on proposed marine sanctuaries across Australia’s north and north west, a new national alliance will pressure the Federal Government to save our tropical sealife at the Community Cabinet in Palmerston today.

Members of the Save Our Tropical Sealife alliance are combining their resources and wide community reach to ensure the Federal Government upholds its election commitment. Labor promised to provide the highest level of conservation protection for the most sensitive and special areas around the country by establishing a representative network of marine parks by 2012.

Jess Abrahams of the Australian Marine Conservation Society said: “Protected as promised, the region will become an important refuge for iconic tropical marine life, including six of the world’s seven species of threatened sea turtles, globally vulnerable dugong, and the recently described Australian snubfin dolphin.”

“In order to meet the election promise timeline, Environment Minister Tony Burke will decide in coming weeks whether to protect marine life in iconic sites like the Pilbara, the Kimberley, the Gulf and the Top End,” The Wilderness Society spokesman Gavan McFadzean said.

“The Gillard government, currently visiting northern Australia, has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to safeguard Australia’s tropical marine life in a world-class network of marine sanctuaries.”

Emma Belfield of Environs Kimberley said: “The tropical waters of Australia’s north and north west are largely unprotected from over-fishing, the rapid expansion of mining and the oil and gas industry. Scientists advise that large areas need to be protected to ensure the long-term future of our marine life.”

“We urge the Federal Government to establish large marine sanctuaries across Australia’s tropical north and north west to ensure the impacts of fishing and industrialization by the oil and gas industry do not get out of hand. With less than 1% of our marine environment in sanctuaries, conservation of Australia’s marine life lags far behind that of our native animals on land. It’s time to bridge the gap.”

WWF-Australia’s Paul Gamblin added: “Australia’s tropical marine environment is an icon of global significance and highly sensitive to disturbance. With increasing pressure on the world’s tropical waters from oil and gas, and over-fishing, we have a responsibility to protect one of the planet’s last intact tropical shelf marine ecosystems.  We call on Minister Burke to deliver on Federal Labor’s commitment to protect Australia’s most sensitive and special marine environments.”

“We also urge the Federal Government to fully engage with Indigenous land and sea country managers, and to consult with Traditional Owners, about marine protection in the north and north west, so that fair and more sustainable conservation outcomes can be achieved for all,” concluded Paul Gamblin.

‘Save Our Tropical Sealife’ is an alliance of national and regional environment groups working to ensure northern Australia’s tropical sea life is protected in an extensive network of marine sanctuaries.

Participating environmental organisations include the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Environs Kimberley, WWF-Australia, the Wilderness Society, Humane Society International, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the Migratory Wildlife Network, the Environment Centre Northern Territory, Pew Environment Group, the Queensland Conservation Council and the Conservation Council of Western Australia.

Further comment: contact Jess Abrahams m: 0407 043 457. Gavan McFadzean m: 0414 754 023,
Emma Belfield 0400 181 748, Paul Gamblin m: 0410 221 508

For Labor’s election commitment see: http://www.alp.org.au/agenda/environment/a-healthy-environment/

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