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$2 Million to clear further killer nets.



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Nigel Scullion

Country Liberal Party Senator for the Northern Territory Phone 08 89813567 Fax 08 89813022 _____________________________________________________________________

30th November 2004

$2 MILLION TO CLEAR FURTHER KILLER NETS

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Senator Nigel Scullion today welcomed the $2 million commitment from the Australian Government to save threatened marine and coastal animals from entanglement in remote waters and beaches off the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Senator Scullion said the funding, which was from the Natural Heritage Trust, would help to rid the Gulf of ghost nets, develop a monitoring system, help indigenous communities along the coastline to remove and document ghost nets and marine debris.

North East Arnhemland has a high number of threatened and endangered marine turtle species and marine debris and, in particular, derelict fishing nets are significant threats to these turtles as well as to dugongs, dolphins and sea snakes.

“Derelict fishing nets are of greatest concern, entangling about 90 per cent of 200-odd marine turtles stranded at Cape Arnhem between 1996 and 2003. “In surveys conducted between 2000 and 2003, more than 90 per cent of derelict nets came from international fleets fishing Indonesian waters, while less than 10 per cent originated from Australian commercial fisheries.”

Senator Scullion said Northern Australia was especially vulnerable to marine debris because of its remoteness, proximity to intensive fishing operations in neighbouring regions and the difficulties in surveillance and enforcement of management arrangements.

“This investment will help develop a mechanism and a cooperative community effort to deal with the threat and includes awareness programs for schools, a Gulf Ghost Nets Website, lobbying opportunities and community awareness raising through posters, radio, newsletters" he said.

This is a great win for the fishing industry and for the Northern Territory waters to put in place monitoring facilities to ensure the protection of our marine wildlife. Indigenous communities will be supported in monitoring and clean-up activities, and best fishing practices will be promoted to the fishing industry.

“Planning activities will also work closely with the Dugong and Turtle Project being undertaken by the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance and involving Gulf indigenous communities.”

For further information on the Gulf Ghost Nets Project, contact project coordinator Riki Gunn on 0427 476 500

Media contact: Lisa MacLean 0419 641 282