ACF and VNPA join in to Save the Bay

Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) swing into action to save Port Phillip Bay's 115 reef species found nowhere else on earth!

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Plea to save the Heads' rare sponges

The Age Saturday 17th November 2007

Clay Lucas

Sponge Garden at the Heads before dredging in 2005. Photo: Mary Malloy

ENVIRONMENT groups are lobbying the Federal Government to put rare sponges that live deep below the entrance to Port Phillip Bay on a protected species list.

The Port of Melbourne Corporation wants to rip half a million tonnes of limestone and sandstone from the Heads to allow bigger ships into the bay, but the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Victorian National Parks Association say the plan will badly damage at least some of the sponge gardens at the Heads.

Planning Minister Justin Madden approved the corporation's dredging plans two weeks ago. The project must be approved by state and federal environment ministers, and Ports Minister Tim Pallas.

But yesterday the ACF and the national parks association lodged an application with the federal Department of the Environment and Water Resources to have the sponge gardens listed as protected species.

The two groups said the unique sponge gardens were at risk of "potentially catastrophic impacts" if the Heads were dredged. The colourful sponge gardens include 115 reef species found nowhere else in the world, the environment groups said.

They were at risk of extinction if dredging went ahead.


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