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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
21 July 2002
The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced the listing of a deadly frog disease as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
'The chytrid fungus is an infectious disease contaminating frogs worldwide and has already been recorded on the east coast of Australia, southwest Western Australia, Adelaide and the central Kimberley region,' Dr Kemp said.
'It is believed to have been a factor in the extinction of six Australian frog species and has reduced populations of many others. It is understood that another forty-three amphibian species in Australia are infected with the fungus.
'Today's announcement means that a Threat Abatement Plan will now be developed to help further reduce the impact of this devastating disease on Australian frog populations.
'The Howard Government has provided more than $2million dollars for projects aimed at protecting Australia's unique frog species,' Dr Kemp said.
The Natural Heritage Trust funded projects have included: research into establishing where the fungus is found and how long it has been in Australia, trialing anti-fungal drugs on collected tadpoles, population surveys and monitoring and a range of recovery actions. The largest of these recovery projects has received more than $1 million over the past five years to protect 15 frog species found in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
'The chytrid fungus invades the superficial layers of the frog's skin causing damage to the keratin layer and may kill the animal by releasing toxins that are then absorbed,' Dr Kemp said.
'As frogs drink and breathe through their skins, the fungus may be disrupting these mechanisms.'
Under the EPBC Act, listed species are considered to be a matter of National Environmental Significance. As a consequence, any activity that has, will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on them may need to be assessed and approved by the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage.
For more information on Australia's threatened species please contact Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on freecall 1800 803 772 or visit the web site at www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/index.html.
Frank Jackson (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 545 070