State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has asked the Minister for Environment to provide some clarity on the future of the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund beyond this financial year.
“As the Minister would be aware, earlier this year we had a situation where executive staff resigned due to uncertainty, before the announcement was made at the 11th hour it would continue for 12 months.
“Given we now enter the latter stages of 2015, we will soon be entering similar territory and I would encourage the Minister to provide some certainty around its continuation sooner rather than later for the benefit of staff overseeing the fund and also those who are working in the various programs.
“As the Minister would know, the Fund achieved a considerable amount and this is no doubt why she chose to fund it for a further 12 months.”
Mr Bull said while the fund had supported a range of important work being done, there remained more to do, saying he had been contacted in recent months by members of the community, not only wanting the fund to continue, but suggesting areas where more research is required.
“These include monitoring of water bird numbers, but in particular cormorants. As I understand it the most recent study in 1998 showed there were around 3,470 Great Cormorants living on the Gippsland Lakes estimated to have consumed between 261 to 531 tonnes of black bream per annum.
“There is anecdotal evidence waterbird numbers have increased and the request has been made that updated information is required.
“We have also seen the recent discovery of the Pacific Sea Star in the Gippsland Lakes and there have been calls for ongoing programs into their monitoring.
“The third topic that has been raised is the need for more detailed studies into salt tolerant vegetation that can combat erosion at times of low freshwater inflows when salinity increases in the system.
“These are all important projects I would like to see come under consideration under this fund, but we need some certainty as to its future and it would be pleasing if the Minister can provide that certainty,” Mr Bull said.