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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

17 August 2004

Added protection for sub-antarctic fur and southern elephant seals


The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, today unveiled a new recovery plan for the threatened Sub-Antarctic Fur and Southern Elephant seals.

" They were hunted in Australia last century for their meat, oil and fur," Senator Campbell said.

"Today, all seals are protected in Australia under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and populations are recovering from the hunting.

"But the Sub-Antarctic Fur and Southern Elephant seal populations remain low and they are listed as vulnerable under the Act.

"Threats also include pollution and marine debris, climate change, changes to sea surface temperatures which influence their prey, predators, disease, competition with other fish, and disturbance from activities such as tourism or research.

"We need to ensure these seals are protected so that their numbers can recover.

"The plan recommends regular monitoring of populations so that if potential threats develop into actual threats, remedial action can be taken quickly.

"The recovery plan will be supported by similar actions from state governments, as the species also live in state-managed waters. Particularly important for these species is Macquarie Island.

"This streamlined recovery plan will shorten the development phase and ensure that the $1 million budgeted from the Australian Government's $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust for marine species recovery planning is directed to priority recovery actions."

Recovery plans remain in force until and unless the species is removed from the threatened list, and are binding on the Australian Government who must act in accordance with the plans.

The Sub-Antarctic Fur seal and Southern Elephant seal recovery plan is available at www.deh.gov.au/coasts/species/seals/plan.html or by calling the Department of the Environment and Heritage on Freecall 1800 803 772.

Commonwealth of Australia