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$720,000 to help seals and sharks avoid capture.



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Joint Media Release Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell & Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation Senator the Hon. Ian Macdonald

6 March 2005

C068/05

$720,000 to help seals and sharks avoid

capture Australian Government Ministers for Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell and Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Senator Ian Macdonald will today launch Seaweek by announcing $720,000 in funding from the Australian Government's $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust to help reduce the incidental capture of wildlife species such as seals and sharks.

Seaweek is an annual celebration which aims to focus on community awareness, provide information and encourage an appreciation of the sea. It also provides a focus for student and community activities, the publication of educational materials and media promotions about the marine and coastal environments.

Senator Campbell said the funding would also be used to address shark bycatch and identification issues, focusing on a National Shark Education and Awareness Raising Strategy.

"The project will build on the successful SeaNet program, which also recently received $1.16 million in Natural Heritage Trust funding," he said.

"This new work will raise national awareness of the role sharks play in the broader marine ecosystem, and the vulnerability of particular shark species and critical habitat areas and will also look at the cultural significance of sharks to Indigenous peoples.

"Some of the funding would be used to develop a national, coordinated strategy to manage interactions between seals and humans."

Senator Macdonald said that the Australian Government is putting in place practical and cost-effective ways of minimising the unintended harvesting of non-target species.

"This Natural Heritage Trust project will increase our knowledge of bycatch issues in

fisheries, increase our awareness of the role these marine species play in the ecosystem and significantly reduce bycatch mortality," he said.

"The aim is to help the commercial fishing industry reduce seal bycatch and cut back the number of interactions between seals, commercial fisheries and other human activities."

The Ministers said the project reinforces the Government's commitment to improving Australia's already good reputation as a responsible and sustainable fisheries manager.

For more information about the SeaNet program visit www.daff.gov.au or www.oceanwatch.org.au and Seaweek go to: http://www.mesa.edu.au/seaweek.asp