Jun 13, 2012
Julia

Australia Will Create Largest Network of Marine Reserves

 

The Australian Government will create the largest network of marine reserves in the world and limit the exploitation of oil and fishing in sensitive areas to help protect the oceans.

The network will increase the number of reservations from 27 to 60 and will cover about 3.1 million square kilometers, more than a third of the ocean surrounding the country-continent.

“It is time that the world take a turn in the protection of our oceans,” announced the Minister of Environment , Tony Burke, noting that “Australia will lead the course” in favor of a more responsible management of marine and resources.

The minister stressed that many Pacific Island countries are concerned about the impact of mining activities and other resources in the oceans, so far not only responds to the need to “protect the environment” but is linked also to food security.

Under this plan, which must be subjected to a final consultation process before implementation in Australia, will expand the protection of animals such as whales, turtles and other endangered species including the gray nurse shark and dugong (sea mammal relative of the manatee).

Also, it aims to limit the oil and gas exploration, an activity that represents the engine of the Australian economy, and increase the protection of the reefs in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, which is home to the green turtles.

The initiative, announced a few days after the Rio Earth Summit +20, opens the possibility that the fishing industry in compensation claims around a $99.7 million.

According to the Executive in Canberra, the measure will affect only one percent of commercial fishing in the country.

But while there are “many interests at stake,” Australia has a “responsibility” as a country to lead global efforts to protect the oceans, said Burke.

The announcement sent alarm bells ringing in the fishing industry, which warned that the increase of protected areas will mean a greater volume of fish imported to the detriment of local industry.

For its part, the representative of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Chris Smyth, welcomed the measure, although he emphasized that the protected area will not be as extensive as he would have liked.

“There are many interests involved, the industry of oil and gas, commercial fishermen and amateurs as well as environmental groups,” he told ABC .

The new marine reserves announced by the Minister included the Perth Canyon, southwest of the country, “which is larger than the Grand Canyon,” although “the jewel in the crown” is the Coral Sea, northeast Australia .

The Coral Sea area and the adjacent Great Barrier Reef marine reserve representing the world’s largest, said the minister.

The director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Darren Kindleysides, said that in the Coral Sea can not be carried out activities such as oil and gas exploration, mining on the seabed and trawling.

The Coral Sea “has a long chain of coral atolls that are important for various species of fish and sharks,” said Kindleysides, who recalled that marine reserves help protect wildlife and biodiversity.

The creation of marine reserves is the highest level of protection and excludes extractive activities, although the movement of ships, tourism and recreational activities such as scuba diving are permitted.

In 2010, the tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Nagoya (Japan) agreed that 10 percent of the world’s seas should be protected in 2020.

Leave a comment