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'Be Afloat and Aware with Coastcare'

Media Release

30 November 2001

encouraging responsible boating and fishing in Coastcare Week

It's the first week of summer - time for Coastcare Week! Coastcare is encouraging all Australians to embrace this year's theme 'Afloat and Aware' and be responsible while boating and fishing on our oceans and estuaries, especially during Coastcare Week 1-7 December 2001.

Coastcare Week's spokeswomen and marathon swimmers, Tammy van Wisse and Shelley Taylor-Smith outlined how following a few basic principles and taking sensible precautions, all Australians can enjoy the water without harming our marine animals or seagrasses.

Over 60,000 people around Australia are involved in Coastcare, many working as part of almost 2000 community groups, on works such as dune revegetation, weed and feral animal eradication, beach access management, boardwalk construction, coastal planning, marine monitoring and coastal fauna protection.

Ross Monash from Recfish Australia (peak national body for recreational and sport fishing in Australia) said, "Recfish Australia strongly supports Coastcare in their efforts to raise awareness of the potential damage rubbish, bait bags and fishing tackle can cause our marine animals. I strongly urge all recreational anglers to familiarise themselves with the National Code of Practice for Recreational and Sport Fishing and take the utmost care to ensure their actions do not cause harm to our marine life."

Coastcare Week Message #1 - When on a boat or fishing, store your rubbish and bait bags securely.

Shelley Taylor-Smith who during her career won seven world titles and holds the record for the fastest ever swim around New York's Manhattan Island said, "Thousands of kilograms of plastic and fishing line enter the oceans around the world every day. Horrific injuries are suffered by marine animals and birds as a result of rubbish, fishing line, ropes and hooks. It is vital people securely store their rubbish and bait bags so they can't blow overboard."

"Discarded fishing lines are also a potential problem because they can wrap around the beaks of birds, such as Pelicans, making it difficult for them to eat and many eventually die of starvation. Other major concerns are plastic bags, which are particularly harmful to turtles who swallow the bag after mistaking it for jelly fish, an important food source."

"Our coastal and marine environments are great assets. They are under pressure from human impacts such as pollution, weeds, and marine pests. We need to be careful to look after our beautiful coastline and keep our headlands, beaches, reefs and wetlands in good condition."

Ms Taylor-Smith added."Pollution from oil, solvents, detergents, paint and sewage can be deadly to sea life and marine plants. Many marine plants provide healthy habitats for fish, who have to search for new homes when these are destroyed."

"The good news is that these deaths are preventable. People can minimise their impact on the marine environment by securely stowing all rubbish, fishing tackle, hooks, and bait on board and disposing of it appropriately once back on land. Tackle should be disposed of in covered bins as it is often used as deadly nesting material by birds,"

"When you spend so much time in the water you begin to realise you are privileged to share the ocean with such wonderful creatures as turtles, dugongs and dolphins. As a long distance swimmer I've seen the impact pollution and rubbish can have on our marine environment. It is vital we do all we can to help protect our precious coastline and marine animals."

Coastcare Week Message #2 - Respect and learn about the marine environment

Tammy van Wisse who last year became the fastest person to swim the entire length of the Murray River (she swam 2438 kilometres in 106 days) said, "It's important to learn all you can about a marine environment before you actually take to the water. Seagrass beds provide food and shelter for a wide variety of fish and invertebrates and help improve water quality however they are under threat from water pollution and some recreational activities. Invertebrates are a key food source for fish so the health of invertebrates ultimately affects the health of fish."

"Help to preserve our marine environment by not driving your boat across shallow, seagrassed areas or coastal reefs and not anchoring on seagrass beds or reefs. Boat propellers often act as harvesters to the seagrass and anchors can dislodge seagrass and damage sensitive reef areas. Use public moorings where possible."

"Marine pests such as Japanese Kelp and the Northern Pacific Sea Star are another concern, these pests can be transferred onto the hulls of boats or can attach themselves to fishing or diving gear. Be aware of where marine pests are a problem and if you visit an affected area, thoroughly wash your boat, fishing gear and diving gear afterwards and also empty any seawater from your boat before moving into unaffected areas."

Ms van Wisse added, "Marine reserves are established to allow marine habitats to regenerate and grow without pressure from fishing or boating, so please be considerate when visiting these areas."

"There are fishing regulations in place regarding certain species and the size of the fish that can be taken from the sea. Take only what you need when fishing for food and return unused live bait to the sea."

Coastcare Week Message #3 - Responsibly tow and launch your boat

Mr John Lindsay, Engineering Manager of Land Rover Australia outlined the following tips for safe and secure launching and towing of boats:

Land Rover Australia continues to be a strong partner with Coastcare. "Being Afloat and Aware this summer is vital to our coastal and marine environments. We are thrilled to be able to support Coastcare in this important campaign and encourage everyone to be responsible when towing and launching his or her boat," Mr Lindsay said.

Anna-Lisa Hayes, National Coastcare Manager said, "This year, the International Year of Volunteers, is an important time to thank the efforts of our outstanding Coastcare volunteers and an ideal time to join an environment group."

Coastcare is a program of the Commonwealth Government's Natural Heritage Trust, in partnership with State/Territory and Local Governments.

For more information on Coastcare or to join a Coastcare group, please call Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772 or visit the web site at: www.deh.gov.au/coasts/coastcare.

Media contacts:

Bronwyn Farr
PR Manager
Landcare Australia Pty Ltd
Ph: 02 9412 1040
Mob: 0419 434 025

Suzy Upcroft
PR Coordinator
Ph: 02 9412 1040
Mob: 0414 323 615

Anna-Lisa Hayes
National Coastcare Manager
Environment Australia
02 6274 1432

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