September 22, 2016 Latest News No Comments
Green turtle © Meg Green

Green turtle © Meg Green

Four years after the establishment of the Coral Sea Reserve, a proposed reduction in the full-protection zone is set to occur with incredibly detrimental impacts; species within the Coral Sea including fish and turtles have complex patterns of connectivity considered unique on a regional, national and global scale. Covering 989 842 km2, the Reserve is of both environmental importance due to the many reefs within its boundary and heritage value due to the number of vessels and shipwrecks it spans.

Wildlife Queensland urges you to have your say!

Recently, the independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review Reports provided by Professor Colin Buxton and Mr Peter Cochrane who chaired the Bioregional Advisory Panel, and Associate Professor Bob Beeton who chaired the Expert Scientific Panel to the Australian Government, were released online.

Read the full reports: http://www.parksaustralia.gov.au/marine/review/reports.html

Wildlife Queensland has been adamantly focussed on the preservation of marine parks, specifically the Coral Sea, and has frequently lobbied for the expansion of the Marine National Park Zone (IUCN II) (MNPZ) which offers a greater level of protection from commercial and recreational fishing activities.

Wildlife Queensland has been alarmed to find that the recently released reports propose to reduce MNPZ (IUCN II) from 51 to 41 percent – a 10 percent reduction in the total area embodied by the Coral Sea Marine Park – opening up the area to an array of activities including fishing. A recent IUCN report (Spalding MD et al. (2016) ‘Building towards the marine conservation end game: consolidating the role of MPAs in a future ocean’, Aquatic Conservation: Marine & Freshwater Ecosystems 26(S2) pp. 185-199) recommended the expansion of marine protection areas, so this rollback is a metaphoric dagger to the heart that is the Coral Sea’s continued survival.

Proposed changes to zoning in the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve as recommended by the Bioregional Advisory Panel

Proposed changes to zoning in the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve as recommended by the Bioregional Advisory Panel

The positives

It should be noted there are a handful of positives advised by the released Bioregional Report recommendations, but the following do not negate the blow to the MNPZ area covered:

  • Addition of Sanctuary Zone (IUCN Ia) for Lihou Reef
  • Addition of previously exposed reefs within the Coral Sea reef network, specifically MNPZ (IUCN II) reefs: Holmes, South Flinders and Wreck and Habitat Protection Zone (HPZ) (IUCN IV) reefs: Tregosse, Cato and Frederick. Wildlife Queensland understands this will result in a significant increase in IUCN IV zoning in the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve.
  • Upgrade of much of Special Purpose Zone (IUCN VI) to Habitat Protection Zone (IUCN IV) which places restrictions upon fishing
  • Mention of regulation and enforcement to ensure compliance of the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve zones.

Wildlife Queensland’s concern centres on the following needs:

  • Increased reef protection in the Southern Coral Sea
  • Reduction in commercial and recreational fishing in Marine Reserves
  • Application of precautionary principles in areas where biodiversity knowledge gaps exist
  • A strong, decisive regulation and enforcement program.

It is our view that any alterations to the Commonwealth Marine Reserve must be underpinned by:

  • Incorporation of the near-scientific consensus that a reduction is required in fishing efforts both commercial as well as commercial charter and private recreational
  • Expansion of the Marine National Park to include all reefs
  • Enhanced protection of Australia’s largest Trough System and the Southern Coral Sea.

Wildlife Queensland urges you to have your say for the Coral Sea. You voice will make a difference if we all speak as one.

PLEASE, HAVE YOUR SAY!

Submissions Close: Monday, 10 October 2016.

Email your comments to: managementplanning.marine@environment.gov.au

Or send them via free-of-charge post to:

Marine Reserves Management Planning Comments

Department of the Environment and Energy

Reply Paid 787

Canberra ACT 2601

IMPORTANT: Please tailor your submission to your personal grammatical style. Identical submissions are counter-productive as they are treated as a single submission.

Written by wildlife1ict