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Australia’s oceans are amongst the most diverse on Earth. As Australians we have a special responsibility to look after our extraordinary ocean treasures. Our new network of marine reserves, the largest in the world, is a giant stride towards achieving this responsibility.
ACF is proud of the role our members, supporters and staff have played in securing Australia’s world leading marine reserve network.
Marine reserves are based on rigorous science and are overwhelming supported by the majority of Australians. Opinion polls regularly show that more than two thirds of Australians support or strongly support protecting large areas of Australia’s marine environment in a network of marine reserves.
The Commonwealth marine reserves are the result of six rounds of public consultation, hundreds of stakeholder meetings and more than 750,000 submissions, the vast majority of which were supportive of the establishment of highly protected marine reserves.
The Coalition has a proud history of creating marine reserves free from extractive activities
In 2004 the previous Coalition government increased the ‘no-take’ green zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from 5 per cent to 33 per cent, perhaps the greatest conservation achievement of the Howard era. The Great Barrier Reef marine reserves show that fishing, tourism and conservation can co-exist. The Great Barrier Reef supports a $6 billion tourism industry and 60,000 jobs.
The Coalition government also developed much of the policy framework that underpinned planning for the current national network of marine reserves.
In the lead up to the 2013 federal election, the Coalition released a policy, which if implemented, would suspend and review the recently declared marine reserve management plans. ACF is concerned about the possible implications of this policy and urges the new Government to reconsider it. The Coalition should instead approach marine reserves in line with their proud tradition by supporting and strengthening the management of this world-class protected area estate.
ACF believes that if there is to be a review of the marine reserve management plans, it must ensure that there is world-class compliance management standards in place and sufficient funding to ensure the ongoing management of this new network. .
Our environment is our life support system and healthy oceans are a critical component of this
They provide us with oxygen to breathe, food to eat and special places to enjoy. We need our leaders to protect, regenerate and invest in our oceans to ensure we have a healthy society and productive economy.
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, the Albany Canyons and the Gulf of Carpentaria, have been insufficiently safeguarded. Many places, especially in the north and north-west remain vulnerable to the threats from the rapidly expanding oil and gas industry.
Future Australian governments must grasp the opportunity to build on and grow the network to ensure our ocean treasures get the protection they deserve.