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Media Release

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment


12 February 1998

Visitors and regular users to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will soon be alerted to the existence and sensitivities of the endangered dugong.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Senator Ian Macdonald, announced at the opening of the Dugong Review Group meeting in Townsville that information signs will soon be displayed at boat ramps and access points right along the reef coast.

Senator Macdonald, who opened the meeting on behalf of Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill, said the establishment of the sanctuaries was a turning point in the battle to save dugongs in the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

"Dugong numbers have fallen by between 50 and 80 percent since the early 80's. The new measures will help halt that decline," he said.

"The signs work in two ways. They inform concerned boaties and fishers as to how they can help protect dugongs and they give out emergency contact numbers to ring if animals are found injured."

Mesh netting restrictions came into affect on January 12 this year.

Under these measures, netting which represents a risk to dugong, is prohibited in Zone 'A' Dugong Protected Areas. Other threats to fishing such as indigenous hunting and loss of seagrass, are also being addressed.

Relevant fishing practices have been modified in Zone B areas.

GBRMPA Chairman, Dr Ian McPhail said that dugong are recognised as one of the values for which the Great Barrier Reef was World Heritage Listed and Australia therefore has an international responsibility to protect dugong.

The initiative has been developed by the Regional Marine Resources Advisory Committee (RMRACs) and is the brainchild of Bill Whiteman, the Chair of the Hinchinbrook RMRAC. It is funded by the GBRMPA.

12 Feb

Attention Editors/ Chiefs of Staff
For more information ring Craig Sambell at the Marine Park Authority on 500 700, or 018 180 760

Commonwealth of Australia