Little penguins - habitat

Extract from Hansard
[COUNCIL — Tuesday, 6 March 2012]
Hon Lynn MacLaren; Hon Helen Morton


15. Hon LYNN MacLAREN to the minister representing the Minister for Environment:

(1) Is the minister aware of the Murdoch University research that raises serious concerns regarding the long-term survival of Perth’s little penguin population after deaths reached four times the normal level in the second half of 2011?

(2) Is the minister aware that the main reason for these deaths was starvation and that other deaths have been caused by collisions with marine craft?

(3) Is the minister aware of the finding in the public environmental review documents for the Point Peron marina that the Garden Island penguins appear to forage almost exclusively within the southern half of Cockburn Sound during chick rearing?

(4) Is the minister aware of the finding in the PER documents that the seagrass in Mangles Bay has been identified as an important nursery areas for a range of fish species found within the diet of little penguins?

(5) Will the minister undertake to ensure that the little penguin habitat is protected now and into the future and that the proposed canal estate adjacent to their foraging area is not permitted?

Hon HELEN MORTON replied:
(1)–(2) The Department of Environment and Conservation has advised the minister that the research indicates that the main reason for the deaths was starvation most likely caused by high sea temperatures linked to the strong La Nina conditions and a strong Leeuwin current that occurred in the summer of 2010–11. High temperatures impact on the survival of the fish that are the main food source for penguins and can lead to their starvation.

(3)–(5) The Environmental Protection Authority is currently assessing the Mangles Bay marina-based tourist precinct and as part of this process the proponent, Cedar Woods Properties, has released the public environmental review documentation for public comment until 23 April 2012. The public environmental review document addresses the impacts of the proposal on the little penguin and its habitat, and these matters will be given due consideration by the Environmental Protection Authority in its report and recommendations.