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Action needed to address WA's warming oceans

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 6 Aug 2013

The Australian Greens say urgent action is needed to address the devastating economic and environmental cost that ocean warming will have on Western Australia.

“A new, international study published in Nature Climate Change this week has shown that our marine life is already responding to ocean warming in ways that will significantly affect marine ecosystems as well as WA people and industries,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens marine spokesperson said today.

“Increasing mass fish deaths, invasive species, shark presence and coral bleaching off Rottnest were just some of the incidents being put down to ocean warming last year. We have very strong evidence that climate change is impacting on our marine life right now.

“The new report found that in the Indian Ocean, there is a southward distribution of sea birds as well as loss of cool-water seaweeds from regions north of Perth. Two of the report’s authors have described the widespread reorganisation of marine ecosystems, saying it is likely to have significant repercussions for the services these ecosystems provide to humans.

“Economic analysis from the Centre for Policy Development shows our South-West ecosystem is worth $2.9 billion each year through tourism, commercial fishing, and recreation-based industries.

“The Greens know that climate change and warmer oceans will have profound implications for the management of our marine environment and resources. It will impact our biosecurity as invasive species like the Chinese Green Mussel move into our waters. It will impact commercial and recreational fishers.

“The Greens are calling for $2 million for a full economic assessment of our oceans that will demonstrate the ultimate impact of warmer oceans on our state.

“Such an assessment will be an essential driver of early action and investment in mitigation and adaptation strategies, as well as showing the value of fisheries management that is responsive to the long term impacts of a changing ocean.

“The Greens are committed to meaningful action to address climate change and we are the only party standing up for effective measures in Parliament. Labor and Tony Abbot are failing to properly address the threats that climate change poses to WA’s fisheries, agriculture and lifestyle,” Senator Siewert concluded.

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