Call for submissions to marine pest biosecurity review

23 October, 2014

The Coalition Government has today announced a review of the biosecurity arrangements designed to safeguard Australia's marine environment from invasive pests, delivering on another major election commitment to the fisheries and aquaculture industries.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, encouraged anyone with an interest in the marine environment to have a say about biosecurity arrangements.

"This review is the first step in a four-year project we committed to before the election to strengthen marine pest biosecurity management. The process will begin with today's release of an issues paper by the Department of Agriculture," Minister Joyce said.

"Many communities and industries rely on the marine environment for food, employment, income and amenity - perhaps without thinking about the biosecurity threats it faces."

"For this reason the Australian Government has committed up to $5 million over the next four years to review and strengthen our marine biosecurity systems.

"Australia is very fortunate to be free from many pests and diseases found in other parts of the world that have harmed human health, agricultural industries, animals, plants, and the environment.

"Just as we guard against exotic pests for our terrestrial agriculture sectors so too we need to have strong plans and processes in place to protect our wild catch and aquaculture industries, which are worth about $2.3 billion a year to Australia's economy," Minister Joyce said.

Senator Colbeck said it was important to have an effective framework in place to deal with invasive marine pests, which can cause significant damage to the fishing, aquaculture and shipping industries, marine infrastructure and the marine environment.

"Australian waters are home to more than 250 unwanted marine plants and animals that have hitch-hiked into Australian waters," Senator Colbeck said.

"Whilst some marine pests are benign, others if they were to establish in Australia, would pose a serious threat to our important marine-based industries.

"Our review of invasive marine species has a view to remove or eradicate these pests

"We value the knowledge and insight of our marine users and stakeholder engagement will be a key part of this review. We want to hear from the people who know and understand our marine environment about how things currently operate and how they can be improved."

The Department of Agriculture has an issues paper to guide submissions on its website (www.agriculture.gov.au/marinepestreview). Submissions close on 8 December 2014.

JOYCE MEDIA: Gerard McManus 0477 391 580

COLBECK MEDIA: Jemima Stagg 0438 387 436

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