Management of Overabundant and Pest Species Report
Wednesday 3 July, 2019
Mr President - In 2018 the Natural Resource Committee
commenced an inquiry to understand and review the current framework for the
Management of Overabundant and Pest Species in South Australia. South Australia
is home to numerous unique natural assets, many of which are adversely impacted
by the occupancy of overabundant and pest species. This is not the first
Parliamentary Inquiry into this topic in South Australia, with a number of
recent inquiries highlighting the ongoing interest in managing and preserving
natural assets in the short and long term.
This specific inquiry commenced in 2018. It seeks to review
the efficacy of the current legislative, policy and partnering programs
currently in place, and their strength in protecting our states natural assets.
The aim of the inquiry was to understand whether any other approaches may
provide more effective alternatives. The Committee began by inviting
submissions in relation to the costs of managing overabundant and pest species
in South Australia. Costs included impacts on agriculture, animal welfare,
communities, ecosystems and biodiversity. Supplementary to the submissions, the
Committee also visited Meningie in the Coorong region. In this regional meeting,
the Committee heard evidence from 12 witnesses and received 44 submissions.
Through the regional visit and the number of submissions
received, the Committee was able to begin to understand the complexity of the
problem in managing overabundant and pest species. There is no consensus on how
to manage a wide range of different species that negatively affect our natural
assets. However, the inquiry has helped outline challenges that exist in
formulating a successful management approach. These challenges include:
- Divergent opinions among stakeholders about how overabundant
and pest species should be best managed
- Varying levels of understanding about the roles and
responsibilities of parties involved in managing overabundant and pest species
- Limitations in resourcing to manage overabundant and pest
- A need
for more research into best practice management approaches.
Stakeholder responses to the inquiry have highlighted that
there is varying interest in the management of any species. The balancing of
these interests is difficult. Communication and education about managing
overabundant and pest species will prove to be an important element in balancing
these varying opinions in the community. The variance in understanding about
parties’ responsibilities in the current management system also became apparent
in the inquiry. Stakeholders expect and assume that the government will manage
overabundant and pest species and then enforce compliance. This is not
currently the case.
The Committee heard that our State’s biodiversity requires us
to act on overabundant species. The clearing of native vegetation has in part
created an environment which fosters some species to breed to the point of
overabundance. Some species such as Little Corellas and kangaroos pose significant
challenges for the environment in South Australia. The population of these two
species have inflated to the point where they are affecting South Australian
environments and costing the state in other ways, such as agriculture outputs.
Specifically, kangaroo populations may require substantial reductions. How to ethically achieve these reductions in
kangaroo populations, is a point of contention. However, the Committee realised
that urgent attention is required to strengthen the markets for kangaroo
product to allow for better utilisation of non-commercial harvested carcasses.
Further inquiry should be undertaken by the South Australian Government to
examine the validity and challenges of developing a more robust industry for
kangaroo products. The South Australian Government could also investigate industries
arising from the use of overabundant Carp from the River Murray.
The South Australian Government should have the power to
respond to a circumstance where a population of a species inflates to the point
of overabundance and impact the environment. This power does not currently exist.
The Committee agrees that the power should be in the form of a declaration from
the Minister for Environment and Water. This ministerial declaration would trigger
urgent management. The Committee heard that species that could be considered
for a ministerial declaration include: western grey
kangaroos, Little Corellas, long-nosed fur seals, and koalas.
The South Australian Government must engage with stakeholders
to build a mutual understanding on how to tackle this problem. Clarity is
important to achieve outcomes, because although action should be government-led,
it is most likely to be local stakeholders such as National Parks service and
Aboriginal communities fulfilling the action. Overabundant species are a
problem for South Australia and it requires a sustained effort from all stakeholders
and the State Government. Long-term funding is needed to control overabundant
species, research their populations and prevent their environmental impacts.
The Committee would like to thank all the stakeholders who
contributed to this Inquiry. I would also like to recognise my colleagues, for
their contribution to the Committee and this report: The Chair Mr Josh Teague
MP and members of the committee; Mr David Basham MP, Mr Nick McBride
MP, Dr Susan Close MP, the Hon John Darley MLC and the Hon Russell Wortley MLC.
Finally, thank you to Mr Philip Frensham, our
committee secretary, and the extremely capable Dr Monika Stasiak for their
assistance to Committee. I commend the report to the Chamber.