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Tamar Estuary focus of catchment to coast management program

A new program has been established to protect, maintain and enhance the waterways of the North and South Esk river systems and the Tamar Estuary.

The Tamar Estuary and Esk Rivers (TEER) program was launched today in Launceston by the Minister for Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts, Michelle O’Byrne, the Federal Member for Bass, Jodie Campbell and NRM North.

Ms O’Byrne said the TEER Program provided the vehicle for managing the Tamar Estuary and its tributaries from catchment to coast and enables all partners to work together towards a common goal.

The TEER program is a collaboration between the State Government, National Resource Management North, Launceston City Council, West Tamar Council, George Town Council, Meander Valley Council and Hydro Tasmania.

NRM North Chair Richard Ireland, welcomed the establishment of TEER at a time when the community is expecting both greater accountability and possible solutions.

Ms Campbell said the Tamar Estuary and its rivers are the lifeblood of the Northern Tasmanian community.

"It is great to see a program of this nature being established at such a crucial time when there is a need to understand and address the many complex issues affecting the estuary," she said.

Ms Campbell noted that the Australian Government has provided ,000 to NRM North to develop a sediment model to determine how much sediment was entering the Tamar Estuary from the upper catchment river systems.

Ms O’Byrne also launched the State of the Tamar Report 2008 and Tamar Estuary Management Plan 2008, which provides technical information and management strategies to underpin the TEER Program.

"The State of the Tamar Report reviews the environmental quality data for the Tamar Estuary to determine the state of its health, and highlight environmental trends," Ms O’Byrne said.

"The report is a review on environmental data for the Tamar Estuary from 1997 to 2005."

Ms O'Byrne said the report showed that the estuary was in relatively good condition when compared to other estuaries around Australia which had a similar level of urban development.

"The Tamar Estuary has a rich diversity of plants and animals supporting more than 60 species of birds and 110 species of finfish," she said.

"It is also home to a number of threatened species and native vegetation communities, including the threatened green and gold frog which breeds at the Tamar Island wetlands.

"A range of environmental issues affect the Tamar Estuary as result of urbanisation and development including excessive sedimentation and bacteria levels.

"The State of the Tamar Report also provides an overview of recent management actions and recommendations for further actions."

In this year’s Budget, the State Government allocated ,000 to support the TEER Program and an additional ,000 to contribute towards a study initiated by the Launceston City Council to review options for addressing sedimentation in the upper Tamar Estuary.

Ms O’Byrne said the funding recognised the importance of the health of the Tamar Estuary to the Northern Tasmanian community.

"The Tamar Estuary Management Plan provides a future blueprint for managing the natural values of the Tamar Estuary," she said.

"It aims to consolidate existing information about the estuary and to develop management priorities to protect and enhance the estuary’s natural values.

"The State Government, local government and NRM North will work together in partnership with industry groups and the community through the TEER Program so that the Tamar Estuary and North and South Esk River Systems are well managed and continue to support a healthy and diverse ecosystem."