March 1, 2015 Latest News No Comments

For reasons best known to the Abbott government, the closing date

Our marine life relies on the protection of Commonwealth marine reserves nation-wide. - Photo © Sam Harris

Our marine life relies on the protection of Commonwealth marine reserves nation-wide. – Photo © Sam Harris

for submissions of public opinion on the Coral Sea and North Network marine reserves has been extended until Tuesday, 31 March 2015.

In 2012 Australia’s largest network of Commonwealth marine reserves including the Coral Sea, North, North-West, South-West and Temperate East Networks, was established. Management plans for the new network, developed in accordance with the finest available science and extensive consultation with stakeholders in those regions, were set to be implemented in July 2014. With the change in government, however, these plans were set aside.

Wildlife Queensland fears the Abbott government’s current review of Commonwealth marine reserves nation-wide places these areas at risk, and is motivated by a desire to weaken marine reserve regulation and protection for short-term economic gain.

One of multiple advisory panels will review submissions sent in by stakeholders, including community members such as yourself, and construct a report from the various viewpoints expressed for consideration by the government. You MUST speak out against this potential travesty!

Wildlife Queensland would like to see expansion on existing management plans for the Coral Sea to ensure:

  • Increased environmental protection in the southern Coral Sea. The old zoning plan left large swathes of reef exposed to commercial fishing with only 7 of 25 unprotected reefs in the Coral Sea being allocated protection. This often left preserved areas disjointed, increasing the risk of inbreeding in certain species with fewer potential mates to select from. The committee needs to consider how the southern Coral Sea can be utilized in an environmentally sustainable manner to reduce burden upon IUCN Red List Endangered Species;
  • Integration of management strategies between management agencies for adjoining Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef. As adjacent areas, with many species commuting between the two, the quality of one affects the other. Henceforth, there needs to be communication between the two departments to ensure areas vital to the Great Barrier Reef within the Coral Sea are being preserved. Open and continuous dialogue during the construction of a new Marine Reserve plan is crucial to environmental sustainability;
  • Reduced commercial charter and private recreational fishing. This will boost long-term tourism. A report by KPMG states that the previous Marine Reserve Proposal would create a net benefit of $24 million to the north Queensland economy, with an additional $9.2 million from dive tourism revenue;
  • Stronger enforcement and management strategies alongside new management plans to minimise illegal activities within marine networks. Any management strategy is only as good as its enforcement and monitoring programs. Developing the management strategy in conjunction with the monitoring program will ensure a seamless transition from implementation to monitoring and enforcing;
  • Preservation of areas where gaps in knowledge about oceanic flora and fauna distribution and abundance exist, and extended focus on filling these gaps. In areas where a lack of information exists with regards to biodiversity, precautionary principles should be undertaken in an attempt to minimise human impact until further scientific research can be conducted to determine the affect commercial fishing may have upon those areas. Educating ourselves before potentially endangering countless species with our actions is a responsibility, not a requirement, if we hope to achieve environmental sustainability in the southern Coral Sea;
  • Clearer classification of how the various preservation categories will influence shipping channels, and greater restrictions on shipping with vessel tracking requirements for sensitive environmental areas.
Let's hope our ancestors' enjoyment of Australian aquatic life won't rely solely on aquariums. Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour. - Photo © Sacha Fernandez

Let’s hope our ancestors’ enjoyment of Australian aquatic life won’t rely solely on aquariums. Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour. – Photo © Sacha Fernandez

The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland would also like to expand on current management plans for the Northern Network to ensure:

  • Greater protection for marine bioregions. Nine marine bioregions still have no marine sanctuaries despite the LNP committing to establish marine sanctuaries in all of Australia’s marine bioregions over 15 years ago;
  • Greater protection of Limmen Bight in the Gulf of Carpentaria. This location has been recognised as integral for marine life by state and federal governments, yet remains without any marine sanctuaries and is under threat from potential seabed mining;
  • Greater protection of the Arafura Canyons, north-east of Darwin. This location is Australia’s largest canyon system in tropical waters and requires the installation of marine sanctuaries to protect the canyons’ vital marine life.

Wildlife Queensland welcomes and encourages community members to use the above points as prompts in your own submissions.

Get involved NOW! Your children and your grandchildren will thank you for helping to leave these important and beautiful natural resources in pristine condition.

To have your say:

  1. Short Survey: http://www.marinereservesreview.com.au
  2. Written Submission
    1. Email to: haveyoursay@marinereservesreview.com.au
    2. Post to:
      Join the Conversation
      Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review
      C/o Department of the Environment
      Reply Paid GPO Box 787
      Canberra ACT 2601
Written by Wildlifeqld