January 9, 2013 Latest News No Comments

On 14 January 2013, the Commonwealth Government

Photo © Meg Green

Photo © Meg Green

released the draft management plan for the Coral Sea marine reserve. There is one last opportunity for you to have your say and make a contribution. Submissions close on Valentine’s Day 14 February 2013. Wildlife Queensland offers some guidance on what aspects could be addressed in your submission.

Wildlife Queensland congratulates the coordinators of the campaign and also all those who made a submission and put the effort in. The Commonwealth Government has shown both foresight and strong political courage in steering this initiative to date.

The Coral Sea draft management plan has a net increase of 14km² of no-take protection in the large marine national park zone. The net gain was around the north western end of Osprey Reef near North Horn. Unfortunately the sliver of no take protection along the southwest of Osprey Reef was lost. The much sought after up-zoning of the southern Coral Sea could not be achieved.

From the date of proclamation last November until 1 July 2014, the interim management arrangements apply.

The Coral Sea extends east from the Great Barrier Reef and is bounded to the north by Papua New Guinea, and to the east by the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. The Coral Sea is one of the last remaining places on Earth where populations of large ocean fish – sharks, tuna and billfish – have not been drastically reduced.

Our goal is to establish a very large, world-class, highly protected marine reserve that provides a safe haven for marine life and recognises the historic significance of this area. A highly protected marine reserve on the doorstep to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, would deliver an unparalleled contribution to marine science and conservation.

Where to from here?

It is our understanding that negotiations with commercial fishers will continue up to 1 July 2013 when the cheque distribution commences for the commercial fishers impacted as a result of the plan.

The public consultation period finishes on 14 February 2013. Naturally the government has to table the plans in Parliament to meet and satisfy due process. On 1July 2014, the Coral Sea marine reserve management plans and zoning scheme commence.

Writing a submission?

Here are some aspects you may wish to address:

  • Welcome the expanded no take zone in the north-west area of Osprey reef and comment about the reduction in the south west.
  • The removal of mid-water trawling from all categories and zones in the final plan
  • Support the new management strategy of indigenous engagement
  • In discussing use within the Coral Sea Marine Reserve highlight the need for strong compliance and enforcement programs, address commercial ship movements, reinforce the strong support against mining and the stance adopted
  • The need for additional research to address knowledge gaps and the critical need for baseline studies so the success of the management plan may be adequately evaluated.

Photo © Meg Green

All information you need concerning the addresses for submission is available here.

This campaign clearly demonstrates what can be achieved by planning, sound and science-based arguments and bringing the community along with you. This campaign also had a key element – the political will to achieve an historic outcome.

More Information

For more information on Wildlife Queensland’s activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us anemail.

Written by Wildlifeqld