I’m back from the land of no internet, and boy do I have great news!
On November 16th 2012, the Federal Government officially declared our new network of protected marine reserves, the largest in the world! Australia is now officially among the world’s best marine protectors, something it needed with the world’s third largest ocean jurisdiction and diverse, fragile ecosystems. We also have some of the world’s most unique marine life, including in the Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea, and here in the South West where up to 90% of marine life is unique and half the world’s whale and dolphin species are known to occur.
Thirty-three new Commonwealth Marine Parks will be added to the 27 marine parks already in place around Australia (which previously only protected about 4% of our waters). Now 36% of Australian waters will be protected.
The announcement is the culmination of 14 years of hard work and preparation, scientific research and consultation. Plus the actions of the community in showing the government how much they value our marine ecosystem, lifestyle and the benefits that come with a protected environment. More than half a million messages of support were sent to the government during the process, and a record 70% of the public approved of the plan. It really goes to show the importance of people power.
For more information and a summary of the great new marine reserves, head over to Save Our Marine Life.
These new marine reserves pave the way for future marine protection in our waters.
Of course, much work is still needed to address overfishing and oil and gas development threats around Australia.
In addition, there is still time to ask for a few last minute improvements to the marine reserves network in “four forgotten areas”:
- Endangered Australian Sea Lion colonies in the South West need protection from gillnet fishing.
- Seagrass meadows important for threatened Dugongs in the Limmen Bight, Northern Territory, need protection from seafloor dredge mining.
- Seismic testing for oil could put endangered blue whales and sea lions at risk off Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
- The Bremer Canyon off WA is an important marine life hotspot including orcas and sperm whales, which is also threatened by oil and gas development. The government put in place a ‘No Oil’ area off Margaret River, so there is precedent for protection of these important habitats.
Click here to send a message to the Environment Minister Tony Burke asking for him to include these important places in the marine sanctuaries network.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this historic achievement possible. Now let’s go out and enjoy our marine life for years to come!