Southern right whale close to extinction – Recovery plan needed now

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The Labor Opposition has revealed the famed Southern Right Whale is close to extinction in NSW waters and is calling for its addition to the State's Endangered Species List.

"A new report by the independent NSW Scientific Committee states that there could be as few as 10 of these majestic creatures, these gentle giants of the sea, left in NSW waters," Shadow Minister for the Environment Luke Foley said.

In NSW, the Southern Right Whale has been frequently observed close to shore, with the majority of sightings occurring from July to September around the southern and central NSW coastline (south of Newcastle).

Adults can grow up to 18 metres long and weigh up to 54,000 kilograms.

The NSW Scientific Committee, which was established by the Carr Labor Government, says the Southern Right Whale 'is facing a very high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the near future'.*

In 2009, a Southern Right Whale calf was killed when it was struck by a recreational boat in Jervis Bay.

"In its preliminary determination, the NSW Scientific Committee has proposed listing the Southern Right Whale as an endangered species," Mr Foley said.

"This is a species facing extinction in NSW. It needs to be officially listed as an endangered species and a recovery plan developed immediately."

Mr Foley said the report reinforces the important role the NSW Scientific Committee plays in conserving our native animals and plants – and called on Environment Minister Robyn Parker to guarantee its ongoing independence.

"When questioned by Labor in Parliament, Robyn Parker refused to rule out dismantling or diluting the independent NSW Scientific Committee that assesses threatened species under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

"Robyn Parker, of all people, should be sympathetic to endangered species."

* Southern Right Whale Eubalaena australis - proposed endangered species listing

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/determinations/southernrightwhalePD.htm