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New website coming soon!


We are excited to announce that we will launch a new AELERT website in October!

The new website will provide you with easier access to resources and more intuitive discussion boards. Once launched, you will receive an invitation via email to login to the website, update your details and peruse the resources available.

Stay tuned!

Webinar: Unconventional Gas


The next AELERT webinar has been scheduled, this time focusing on Unconventional Gas! You can watch from your desk, or get together with your colleagues to watch it together.

Date: Friday 2 October Time: 11:30am-12:30pm AEST Booking required:

The regulation of unconventional gas is a complex and divisive issue, accompanied by strong emotions and community concerns, and regularly featuring in mainstream media. The volatile public debate, combined with legitimate questions regarding agencies’ responsibilities, creates a unique challenge for our regulatory community.

This webinar will outline Australia’s current unconventional gas research and regulatory arrangements and will present a timely case study from New South Wales.

More information

Emergency Response Training Wrap-Up


Training presenters Paul Fanetti, Kevin Rowley and Ken Raine.

On 15-16 September, two AELERT member agencies joined forces to deliver in-kind Hazardous Materials Safety Awareness Training. The training was hosted at SA EPA, and was presented by WA Department of Environment staff, Ken Raine, Senior Manager Pollution Response, and Paul Fanetti.

The training up-skilled staff in recognising hazards relating to hazardous materials incidents and inspections, risk based approach to hazardous materials issues, basic toxicology and personal protective equipment. It was attended by Emergency Response Team (ERT) staff, Radiation ERT, and Investigators, along with Tasmanian Incident Manager, Roy Port.

The training was arranged by Kevin Rowley through AELERT’s Emergency Operations Network (EON). EON is a group of ERT Managers who collaborate on a range of environmental emergency response issues across Australasia.

ERT staff also received training in incident report writing and statement writing from Kevin, and optical evidence gathering training from trained photographer Alison McCallum (Safework SA). Kevin Rowley also provided guidance on camera usage, required photographs, safe storage and evidence recording.

Volkswagen scandal - US regulators deceived


Environmental regulation was thrown in the spotlight this week, after the US EPA issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act to German car manufacturing giant, Volkswagen. Volkswagen is accused of, and has admitted to, including software in their four cylinder diesel cars that deliberately circumvents EPA emissions standards for air pollutants.

The scandal, which went public on Friday 18 September, was discovered by an environmental group while they were trying to prove that Volkswagen was a leader in emissions control. The group, called the International Council on Clean Transportation, funded road tests that revealed large disparities with the US EPA's lab tests.

Volkswagen has declared that up to eleven million Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars manufactured between 2009-2015 are involved. The US EPA expects to compel VW to issue a recall of all affected cars at some point in the future.

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Illicit Timber Trade Uncovered


To learn more about EIA and the investigative processes it uses, you can hear from Charlotte Davies, one of EIA’s crime analysts, on Tuesday 29 October at the 2015 AELERT Conference.

155 Chinese nationals were convicted and then subsequently pardoned in July 2015 for illegal logging in Myanmar, exposing the massive volumes of timber that have been flowing into China illegally for decades.


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5 Year Research Plan for Fisheries


On 17 September 2015 Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, launched the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation's (FRDC) five-year Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) plan for Australia's fishing and aquaculture industries.

Improving the confidence of consumers in the products of Australian fishing and aquaculture is one priority area outlined in the plan. The RD&E plan also includes improved opportunities for recreational fishers and Indigenous people to benefit from fish and aquaculture. Under the plan both will be able to play a greater role in the stewardship of natural resources.

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Clam memorial graveyard unveiled for National Threatened Species Day


The Territory Wildlife Park has unveiled a creative and moving exhibit, depicting a "graveyard" for illegally harvested giant clams. The educational exhibit cleverly highlights the impact of illegal fishing and the role that consumers play in protecting threatened species.

A headstone marks the display, which was officially opened on Monday 7 September as part of National Threatened Species Day. It aims to emphasise how the overfishing of giant clams can push local populations to the brink of extinction.

Around 200 dead giant clam shells were seized off the Northern Territory coast between November 2013 and April 2014, in a joint operation between the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), Australian Border Force and the Royal Australian Navy. Over 50 of the shells were donated to the Territory Wildlife Park for the display, with others donated to museums, schools and scientific institutions.

The clever display is the result of a collaboration involving the AFMA, NT Fisheries, NT Seafood Council and the US Marine Rotational Forces.

For more information, read the official AFMA media release.

Regulatory Area: Communications, community engagement, illegal fishing Jurisdiction: Northern Territory, Commonwealth

Black market fishing operation shut down (NZ)


A year-long intelligence operation by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), has resulted in compliance officers closing down black market fishing operations in Hawke's Bay on New Zealand's East Coast. Operation River targeted recreational and commercial fishers suspected of illegally selling shellfish. The operation involved a special duties officer infiltrating the black market, uncovering illegal trading of paua (abalone) and crayfish by recreational fishers.

MPI Compliance Director Dean Baigent said that the Ministry had been aware of the illegal activity for several years, and that Operation River was developed as a specific response to the issue.

“Black market trading is very difficult to counter with traditional enforcement methods. The theft of seafood and its subsequent sale often happens below the radar and we have to use different tactics to apprehend those involved,” he said.

Some of the fishers disguised their activities through the use of customary authorisations, which are issued by local kaitiaki/tiaki. However the authorisations must not be used for financial gain, with penalties of up to five years imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines. Commercial fishing premises in Hawke's Bay are also being investigated due to their suspected involvement.

In a related case, a Christchurch restaurant owner payed dearly for buying black market crayfish, being fined $18, 000, sentenced to 150 hours community work and forfeiting his car valued at $80, 000. An MPI investigation showed that the restaurant owner purchased 176 crayfish for $2510 on the black market, which would have cost approximately $8700 if purchased legitimately.

Operation River summary:

  • Search warrants executed on 22 dwellings
  • Commercial fishing premises inspected in Hastings and Napier
  • 31 people interviewed
  • Seizure of one commercial fishing vessel, three recreational fishing vessels, one tractor, 11 vehicles that were connected with black market catch and sales
  • Illegal trading uncovered of 1.8 tonnes of paua (shell on) and 600 crayfish.
  • For more information, read the official MPI Media Release.

    Regulatory Area: Biodiversity, Marine, Investigations Jurisdiction: New Zealand