Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weedy Seadragon campaign

It has been almost 18 months since Weedy Seadragons started taking up lots of my time. It has been an interesting, often frustrating but very worthwhile campaign.... and it is not over yet!
Many people have shown their interest and we have almost 2,500 signatures on our parliamentary petition. (you can print the petition from our website).


This photo is of Josh Byrne ( Gardening Australia presenter) signing our Weedy Seadragon petition on Saturday May 21st. It was a community planting day at our fantastic new 'Grove library'. Josh Byrne & Associates are the project environmental consultants. Josh is very supportive of our call to have the weedy seadragon fully protected in WA. Thanks for your support Josh!

Students from several schools have been involved and you can read some great letters from kids on our facebook page.

www.facebook.com/weedyseadragons.

Even if you are not a facebook member you can watch wonderful videos on our site and view fantastic photos, mostly taken at Cottesloe by photographer and keen snorkeller Mark Binns. This 'weedy wall paper' above, will give you some idea of Mark's interest and talent!


Giz Watson, MLC, Member for the North Metropolitan Region spoke at parliament for the second time on 12th April 2011 about weedy seadragons. We are extremely grateful to Giz for her support and interest.Giz launched our petition in early March and will present our petition to parliament soon. (Read Giz's speech to parliament and see photos from the petition launch on our facebook page.)

Liza Harvey, MLA, Member for Scarborough is also a strong supporter of our call for protected status for weedy seadragons in WA. You can read Liza's letter to Fisheries Minister Moore on the facebook page.
Nyoongar elder, Noel Nannup shared a wonderful story with us about the creation of wardarn noort (weedy seadragon). Photo - Noel signing our petition with Kopi. You will find more on this story at our facebook 'Discussion' page.

I have spoken to groups including dive groups, schools and made a presentation at Perth Region NRM, Coastal and Marine Reference Group. I am extremely grateful to the people and clubs who have sent individual letters to Premier Barnett and to the Fisheries Minister.

We maintain that this beautiful, fragile, endemic fish which is only found in Southern Australian waters deserves full protection in WA. It is fully protected in all other states. It is the marine emblem of the state of Victoria yet in WA they can be collected by anyone! Weedies always die in domestic aquariums as they require perfect conditions and live food - mysids, copepods and other tiny crustaceans.

Weedy seadragons and their relatives are listed as 'Nationally Threatened Species' on the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.On the CITES RED LIST (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) they are listed as 'nearly threatened' species. This status may only be changed if there is scientific monitoring and population figures available or if their habitat is further and dramatically degraded. There is, however, no funding available for population figures nor for monitoring of populations at present. Leafy seadragons have the same 'status'- yet they are protected Australia wide. If a seadragon is collected in NSW the fine is $11,000 and up to 3 months jail for an individual, and $55, 000 for corporations.

When leafy seadragons were protected Australia wide and when weedy seadragons were protected in all the other states - the main reasons given were - over collection for the aquaria trade and loss of habitat - eg as seagrass beds were disappearing and pollution was altering marine ecosystems.

We believe that a protected weedy seadragon in WA will be a well recognised, charismatic and emblematic species to increase community awareness of the need for marine conservation. We call on the WA government to grant full protection to the weedy seadragon.
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