The Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has spent the day in the Coorong and Lower Lakes with local Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP.
The Minister visited the region on Tuesday at Mr Pasin’s request to see the iconic region first hand and here from local ecologists, farmers and fishers about the health of the region and issues it faces.
Included in the visit was a guided tour of the Coorong to inspect pest, plant and animal control work currently underway as part of the recently launched $3.25 million Our Coorong, Our Coast National Landcare program. (Previous media release attached)
Starting at Meningie the Minister toured the Coorong National Park led by National Parks officers and Natural Resources SA Board Members hearing about native vegetation and wildlife rehabilitation initiatives and pest eradication initiatives including aerial feral deer control program.
The Minister and Mr Pasin then met with irrigators about salinity issues in Lake Albert and the proposal for an interconnector to reduce salinity that would benefit the eco-system and local irrigators.
“Salinity levels following the millennium drought remain unaddressed. While a Lake Albert Scoping study was undertaken in 2013/14 no real action has been taken since. I’ve been advocating for an interconnector for a number of years. Until we can get this project moving the local economy will continue to suffer, as will the native flora and fauna.
“We know that by addressing this issue we can ultimately boost employment in the region so let’s get on with it. We need the State Government to undertake an Environmental Impact Study and consult with stakeholders about the interconnector proposal. There has been too much inaction for too long,” Mr Pasin said.
Fur seals were also a topic of discussion as the Minister met with local fishers and Ngarrindjeri Elders impacted by the large increase in number seals not native to the Coorong and Lower Lakes. The Minister saw a large number of seals while crossing the Tauwitchere Barrage.
“I’ve been advocating for a number of years for real action by the State Government on reducing the number of fur seals. They are having an impact on both the environment and economy of the region. To have the Minister hear first-hand from the people dealing with these issues day in and day out was invaluable. Until people see them up close and hear about the devastation they have caused for the local fishing industry it’s hard to grasp the severity of the situation.
“I’m so pleased the Minister could come and get a better understanding of the impact the seals and salinity issues are having on the Coorong and Lower Lakes and the people that live there.
“Any weight she can add to the argument for acting on this issue is welcomed. I’ve encouraged Minister Price to speak to State Environment Minister David Speirs about the seals and the interconnector issues when she meets with him. Our regions matter and we need these issues addressed,” Mr Pasin said.
Media contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8531 2466