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Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003



Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003

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Tabled Paper 1123


Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled by Delia Lawrie


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Environment Australia Part I Written Submissions Cane Toad Inquiry Report Volume 2 108 2. institute strict quarantine measures in designated areas, e.g. islands or peninsulas, to keep them toad-free as long as possible; 3. educate people to reduce the likelihood that they will transport cane toads to new areas; 4. try to conserve breeding populations of species threatened with extinction by cane toads, through translocation or captive breeding if necessary and appropriate; 5. conduct research to obtain more information about environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts in order to guide priorities for future impact mitigation measures; and 6. increase co-ordination and momentum of research and control measures. Biological control of cane toads CSIRO was commissioned by the Commonwealth in 1990 to undertake and manage a cane toad research program. The Commonwealth provided $1.25 million over three years with some of the States contributing a further $90,000. In 1993 the Commonwealth provided additional funding of $2 million, which finished in December 1996. In 1996/1997, the first year of the Natural Heritage Trust, the Commonwealth provided $120,000 to fund the program to June 1997, to finalise some work not previously finished. Although much valuable research was undertaken in this period between 1990 and 1997, no methods were identified that would specifically target cane toads and enable broad-scale control of them in Australia. In summary, while the research identified viruses from Venezuela that would control cane toads in Australia, laboratory trials showed that the same viruses also killed native Australian frogs. In late 1998 the then Minister for the Environment, Senator the Hon Robert Hill, sought a reassessment and further national commitment to undertaking research into the biological control of cane toads. Based on this initiative a new CSIRO research project, also funded from the Natural Heritage Trust, began to investigate a mechanism to disrupt the development of tadpoles to sexual maturity. Since 2000 the Commonwealth Government has provided to CSIRO nearly $1.5 million from the Natural Heritage Trust to support that research program. The research being undertaken by CSIRO may take up to 10 years to complete and there is no guarantee that this research will result in a biological control method to control cane toads. The project is progressing well with CSIRO advising of success in isolating possible genes and viruses that could be considered for use in preventing cane toad tadpoles from developing. Further details about the project are at Attachment F. Quarantine toad-free areas Until an effective biological control of cane toads is developed, the only method of conserving an entire ecosystem from the impact of cane toads would be to exclude cane toads from the area by natural or artificial barriers and quarantine measures. This would not be economically or practically feasible on a large scale but may be warranted in specific, small areas of northern Australia, particularly those that are suitable for conservation of species most at risk from cane toads.

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