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Action Alert - Marine Debris      



ACTION ALERT - 31 july 2008

protect species from marine debris

Action by 14 August 2008

Following a nomination by HSI, ' Injury and fatality to vertebrate marine life caused by ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris'  was listed as a Key Threatening Process (KTP) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act in August 2003.

Identified as one of the world's five major marine pollutants, marine debris has a harmful and often fatal impact on wildlife in all the oceans of the world. In Australian waters alone, at least 20 species listed as threatened under the EPBC Act, including species of turtles, cetaceans, sharks and birds, are adversely affected by marine debris. A coordinated national effort is required to prevent and mitigate the impacts of this KTP. Accordingly, the federal government has decided to develop a Threat Abatement Plan, and a draft has finally been released for public comment.

While the draft TAP addresses the issues of long term prevention, removal of existing harmful marine debris, mitigation and monitoring of quantities, and the origins and impacts of marine debris, there is far too much emphasis on ' considering'  actions and further research, at the expense of practical and immediate responses. The result is that many of the actions prescribed in the draft TAP are either lacking in detail, or non-prescriptive.

Tackling this threat to marine species will require a concerted and coordinated effort from all levels of government, and the engagement and cooperation of relevant industries. To be purposeful, it is essential that this TAP provides concise actions with clearly detailed and measurable objectives.

Further information on the draft TAP can be accessed at http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/draft-tap-marinedebris.html


The deadline for submissions is the 14th August 2008.

Send your comments on the draft Threat Abatement Plan for the impacts of marine debris on vertebrate marine life to the Director, Migratory and Marine Biodiversity Section, Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601, by fax to 02 6274 2455 or by email to marinedebris@environment.gov.au. Send a copy of your submission to The Hon. Peter Garrett MP, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 or by email to Peter.Garrett.MP@aph.gov.au

Points to make in your submission:

§ As derelict fishing gear is one of the most abundant and harmful forms of marine debris, it is essential that waste reporting and management requirements are made compulsory for commercial fishing vessels, and that these are incorporated into fishery management plans and regulations.

§ The mandatory marking of fishing gear to allow the identification of specific fleets or fisheries must be pursued. A government subsided buy-back scheme for old fishing nets would provide an incentive for fishers to collect discarded nets when found.

§ The TAP could direct the mandatory modification of fishing gear to reduce ghost fishing and entanglement with marine species.

§ Land-based sources of marine debris commonly enter the marine environment via drains and streams, and it is essential that the TAP specifies litter reducing mitigation methods to be adopted by all coastal Local Governments. This sector should be required to pursue, and commit to, such actions, including the provision of mesh barriers at the outlets of all stormwater drains in coastal areas.



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