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Tuesday, 10 August 2004
Page: 26054


Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 7 July 2004:

(1) When did the Government propose the establishment of a marine sanctuary at the Cod Grounds Grey Nurse Shark critical habitat site.

(2) Since that date, what action has the Government taken to protect the site from the recognised key threat to the shark of line fishing.

(3) Given that the Government to date has refused to list this, and other critical habitat sites identified in its recovery plan for the Grey Nurse Shark in Australia, on the register of critical habitat under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, will the Government list the site on the register; if so, when; if not, why not.

(4) With reference to the Government's recovery plan for the Grey Nurse Shark which was published in 2002, can statistics be provided as to the current status of the species, and evidence of the recovery or further decline of the Grey Nurse Shark since the implementation of the plan.


Senator Ian Campbell (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Government released a Discussion Paper on conservation options for the Grey Nurse Shark in the Cod Grounds area in March 2003, in which the option of a marine protected area was canvassed.

(2) The Government has proceeded with the option of a marine protected area. In December 2003, in accordance with subsections 351(1) and 351(2) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), a notice was gazetted requesting public comment on the proposed proclamation of the Cod Grounds Marine Reserve.

(3) The declaration and management of the Cod Grounds as a Marine Protected Area will provide secure legislative protection for the Grey Nurse Shark. In addition, through the development of a Plan of management, and the operation of the EPBC Act and its regulations, all activities affecting the area will be assessed, and managed, to protect Grey Nurse Sharks and their habitat.

The declaration of the Cod Grounds as a Marine Protected Area does not exclude the possibility of including the Cod Grounds on the Register of Critical Habitat. However, the current priorities are to finalise the Marine Protected Area arrangements, and to focus on specific recovery actions that will improve the protection for the species.

(4) No.