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Minister calls on Tasmanian Government to protect giant freshwater lobster.

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MEDIA RELEASE Senator the Hon Ian Campbell Minister for the Environment and Heritage Manager of Government Business in the Senate

C49/04 1 September 2004


The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator the Hon Ian Campbell, today called on the Tasmanian Government to take action to protect the Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster.

The Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster, Astacopsis gouldi, is one of the largest freshwater invertebrates in the world. It lives only in the rivers in the north of Tasmania.

It was the first invertebrate species to be nationally listed as threatened, and is currently listed as vulnerable under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999,as well as under State legislation.

“The Lobster requires streams with good water quality and ample canopy cover. Habitat clearance and disturbance, combined with the effects of past fishing, is reducing both the species' abundance and the viability of some populations,” Senator Campbell said.

“I have written to the Tasmanian Minister responsible for forest management, Bryan Green, requesting the implementation of procedures to ensure that the Lobster habitat is protected. Better protection of the Lobster could be achieved by leaving more vegetation around waterways when harvesting takes place.” he said

The Minister noted that the Australian Government had agreed with Tasmania that a recovery plan for the species would be developed, but that the team responsible for the plan has had problems reaching agreement on some parts of the plan.

“I have asked Minister Green to do whatever is necessary to facilitate the finalisation of the Recovery Plan for the Lobster. In the mean time, however, the Australian Government will not stand by and see the numbers of this species decline.” he said

“Since 1996, the Australian Government has provided over $190,000 in Natural Heritage Trust funding for the protection of the Giant Freshwater Lobster. This funding has contributed to the development and implementation of a recovery plan. Actions funded have included assessment of habitat requirements, population monitoring, and community education and awareness.

“I think that we are reasonably close to seeing a final Recovery Plan. Tasmania nevertheless needs to act before the Recovery Plan is in place, to ensure that any forestry operations that could impact on the survival of the lobster are subject to strict, precautionary management that protects habitat quality.”

Media contact: Wayne Grant 0407 845 280