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Australia’s oceans are amongst the largest and most diverse on Earth. To help protect them the Federal Government has established the world’s largest network of marine reserves. ACF is working to ensure the management of the reserves is well planned and well resourced.
Australia lies at the intersection of three major oceans, five climate zones, mighty currents and a kaleidoscope of underwater seascapes. We are guardians of an amazing wealth of ocean treasures.
Did you know that Australia has the world’s largest area of coral reefs, the largest single reef — the Great Barrier Reef — and the largest seagrass meadow in Shark Bay?
We also have the third-largest area of mangroves and more than half of the world’s mangrove and seagrass species. Australia’s oceans provide for six of the seven known species of marine turtles, 45 of the world’s 78 whale and dolphin species, and 4,000 fish species — 20% of the global total.
Without our oceans, Australia’s environment, economy, society and culture would be very different. They are our lifestyle-support system.
Our oceans have suffered immensely from the impacts of fishing, land-based pollution, coastal and catchment development and the lack of protected areas and now climate change
Our report Easing the squeeze on our ocean treasures tells you why in detail.
Australia’s oceans are full of ocean treasures – our ocean life and habitat. We've put together a fantastic educational oceans treasure map and an oceans treasure activity supplement that shows you where to find our ocean treasures and how much protection they have.
We have been working with other conservation groups to strongly encourage the Federal Government to establish a network of marine reserves that protect and help the recovery of our ocean treasures. And the federal government is now doing that. In November 2012, the government made the world’s largest national network of marine reserves into law.
Two of the special places that will be given protection in the national network of marine reserves are the south-west corner of Australia and the Coral Sea.
The south-west corner includes a number of globally significant ‘hotspots’ for ocean life, including the Perth Canyon – one of only two feeding sites in Australian waters for the critically endangered blue whale, the world’s largest animal. It is home to threatened and endangered species like the white shark and the leatherback turtle. It features the southernmost major tropical coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and Australia’s highest underwater mountain range.
The Coral Sea is special. It has abundant large wildlife – whales, dolphins, manta rays and large ocean fish such as sharks, tuna, marlin, barracuda and swordfish. It's largely unspoiled coral reefs and remote islands and sandy cays that attract large numbers of migratory seabirds and threatened turtles.
Although the reserve network delivers much needed protection to many of our most spectacular ocean ecosystems, some important areas, such as the waters off the Kimberley and the Albany Canyons and the Gulf of Carpentaria, have either missed out completely or been given insufficient protection. Many places, especially in the north-west, including the Kimberley Coast, are still vulnerable to the threats that accompany a rapidly expanding oil and gas industry.
ACF will continue to work in collaboration with other groups to improve the national marine reserve network and to ensure the management of the reserves is well planned and resourced.