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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 10163

Environmental Conservation

(Question No. 211)

Mr Kelvin Thomson asked the Minister for the Environment, in writing, on 14 July 2014:

(1) Is he aware of the 'Save Our Shorebirds' online petition.

(2) What action is the Government taking to:

(a) establish a Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds, and

(b) develop a national wetlands policy that takes into account the cumulative effects of multiple threats to Australia's shorebirds.

Mr Hunt: The answers to the honourable member's questions are as follows:

(1) Yes. BirdLife Australia launched a 'Farewell Shorebirds' National Campaign on 10 April 2014 to coincide with the northward departure of migratory shorebirds. The campaign ran for four weeks and included a number of community events aimed at raising the profile of Australia's migratory shorebirds, including an online petition 'Save our Shorebirds'. The petition called on the Australian Government to develop: a strong national wetlands policy that takes into account the cumulative impacts of multiple threats; a new Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds that makes a strong commitment to the protection of a network of important shorebird habitat in Australia and throughout the East-Asian-Australasian Flyway; and, a strategy to engage our international partners in the protection of habitat important to the survival of Australia's migratory shorebirds. At the end of the campaign, approximately 700 people had signed the online petition.

(2) (a) Under section 285 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) wildlife conservation plans may be prepared for the purposes of protection, conservation and management of listed migratory, marine, cetacean or conservation dependant species. The current Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds came into effect in February 2006. A review in 2013 recommended the plan be updated to outline a national framework identifying research and management actions to protect migratory shorebirds. In preparing the revised plan, the Department held two workshops with stakeholders in April 2014. State and territory government officials were further involved in development of the draft plan through the Ramsar Implementation Committee (formally known as the Wetlands and Waterbirds Taskforce). The new draft plan incorporates input from these meetings.

The new draft Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds covers 37 species that regularly and predictably visit Australia, and will shortly be released for a statutory three-month period of public consultation. Once public consultation is completed, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee will consider a final draft plan prior to its submission for Ministerial approval.

(b) In Australia many different organisations and individuals have responsibility for managing wetlands and the shorebirds and other species they support. The Australian Government's role is established primarily by obligations under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Convention). Consistent with the Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan, the Department has canvassed the views of states and territories and other stakeholders on issues that may benefit from the development of a national wetlands policy. Consideration is now being given to the role of a national policy in furthering Australia's implementation of the Ramsar Convention in the context of other measures already in place at the national, state and local levels.