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The world’s largest national marine reserve network will today be made law in Australia.
“The proclamation of the world’s largest national marine reserve network in Australian waters will go down in Australian history as an economically and environmentally sustainable decision, with enormous social and conservation benefits,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dr Paul Sinclair.
“The reserves will protect our magnificent endowment of marine biodiversity and many of our spectacular coral reefs so Australians and international tourists can continue to enjoy these environmental assets for generations.
“The national marine reserve network is open to boating and more than half the reserve area, which starts 5.5 kilometres off the coast, is open to recreational fishing.
“The parts of the marine reserves that do not allow recreational fishing or types of commercial fishing will give fish the space to breed and spill over into fishing areas.
“Polling shows 7 out of 10 Australians support the marine reserves, which received international acclaim at the recent United Nations sustainability conference, Rio+20.
“Although the national marine reserve network is an achievement for Australians to celebrate, there is more work to be done to protect our coastal way of life.
“While the reserve network bans oil and gas exploration in the Coral Sea and off Margaret River in WA, protecting nearby beaches from oil spills; the north west region, including the Kimberley coast, is still vulnerable.
“The Federal Government should now take the lead in developing comprehensive, adequately resourced management plans for these reserves and funding the plans.
“ACF urges all political parties to remember that Australia has a long history of tri-partisan support for marine conservation, which is appropriate as the great majority of Australians care about our beaches and oceans,” Dr Sinclair said.