Media Releases - 07 September 2018

Threatened Species Day—where are the answers on logging lobster reserves?

Todd Walsh, Vica Bayley and lobster
PHOTO: Todd Walsh, Vica Bayley & a Giant Freshwater Lobster
On Threatened Species Day, Wilderness Society today called on the Tasmanian Environment Minister to answer questions about the government’s policy to log protected forests recommended for formal reservation under the Giant Freshwater Lobster Recovery Plan, developed by the state and federal governments under federal environment laws.

Wilderness Society released letters dating back to late 2016 that seek meetings with successive ministers to discuss the policy conflict of undoing the conservation status of 37,000ha of informal reserves in key catchments identified in the recovery plan as critical lobster habitat, that need reservation. Just last month, current Environment Minister Elise Archer offered a disappointing initial response to these questions, which evaded the issues and ignored our request to meet.

“Threatened Species Day is an opportunity to reflect on the plight of some of our most troubled wildlife and the actions humans take that can both help and hinder their survival,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.

“Tasmania has a sad extinction legacy and while many good people are doing stellar work to save species, they are being let down by apathy, indifference and ignorance at the political level and environment laws that simply do not work.

“The enigmatic giant freshwater lobster highlights this better than anything, with key habitat areas recommended for reservation by a government-agreed recovery plan, protected via the Tasmanian Forest Agreement but now back on the chopper thanks to the Hodgman Government’s plan to reverse informal conservation reserves so that they can be logged. This is nonsensical in 2018."

Tasmanian lobster expert Todd Walsh this morning addressed a Canberra rally, calling on political leaders to develop a new suite of national environment laws that actually work. Todd was an expert who helped develop the lobster recovery plan and has advocated for proper protection for important river catchments for over 20 years.

“Flawed environment laws, politically motivated policy and the absolute absence of any leadership from political representatives are failing our most vulnerable species,” said Mr Bayley.

“Threatened Species Day is more than just a once-a-year photo op for environment ministers and provides a platform to fly the flag for our iconic species' survival and pose genuine questions to politicians about exactly what they’re doing to help.

“Logging is a major threatening process that has decimated lobster populations over decades, but it’s currently exempt from federal environment laws. It’s not pretty, but Tasmania’s lobster is a poster child for the case for new laws that actually work to protect habitat.”

Read the abject correspondence from the Tasmanian Government here.