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WA’s invasive species fight must consider ocean warming

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 26 Aug 2013

The Australian Greens said today that ocean warming, a consequence of climate change, was intrinsically linked to the arrival of new hazards in WA ports and fisheries.

"The WA Government's biosecurity response needs to consider climate change and extreme weather, which are directly linked to the arrival of invasive species in our waters," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens marine spokesperson said today.

"As the oceans warm, species that could never have survived in the past can now thrive, threatening local marine life. A recent study published in Nature Climate Change has shown that our marine life is already responding to ocean warming in ways that will drastically affect marine ecosystems as well as WA people and industries.

"We need to monitor ocean changes and the effect this has on marine life so that the hazards can be dealt with accordingly. The threat of climate change is very real and needs to be taken seriously.

"The Government needs to make sure that its biosecurity response is able to identify and quickly respond to ocean heatwaves, and look for new hotspots. If the government just continues to do business as usual without factoring in climate changes as a driver of the new threats we are seeing, the response will not be targeted enough to protect our fisheries and our marine life.

"The Greens have already called for a $2 million package to undertake a full economic assessment of what impact warmer oceans will have. This initiative can work in tandem with the WA Government's announcement of $35 million to tackle marine pests.

"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.

"Our call for an economic study into the costs of ocean warming is essential for commercial and recreational fishers, tourism and other industries.

"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," Senator Siewert concluded.


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