Media Release Marine Conservation

Australia’s marine environment needs more funding after decade of neglect

May 10, 2023

The Albanese government is setting up the framework for better environmental protection, but significantly more funding is urgently needed for the protection and restoration of nature, including our coasts, oceans and marine life, after a decade of neglect, the Australian Marine Conservation Society said today in response to the federal government’s budget.

AMCS Campaigns Director Tooni Mahto said: “We welcome funding commitments to establish a new national environmental protection agency, Environment Protection Australia, and a new environmental data division, Environment Information Australia, to improve transparency and decision making.

“Establishing a new framework for nature protection is important but more funding is required to repair the monumental damage that has been done to this continent and our marine environment and tackle the extinction crisis. Experts say we need $2 billion a year to address the environmental damage in Australia, a drop in the ocean compared to what has been committed in this budget. The $1 billion funding over the next five years for species protection and environmental restoration under the National Heritage Trust is welcome, but it is simply not at the scale needed to reverse the extinction crisis, or meet community expectations for nature protection and restoration.

“We hope that this budget lays the groundwork for much more spending on environmental protection and restoration in future years, including immediate threats to the Great Barrier Reef and our marine environment.

“The Albanese government’s continued funding of the clean energy transition will help reduce the impacts of climate change and the burning of fossil fuels, but the National Climate Risk Assessment and Adaptation Plan is urgently needed, and must apply to assessing risk and funding for nature adaptation around Australian coasts and oceans.

“With a global plastic pollution crisis a major concern for Australians, it’s disappointing that there is no new investment for recycling and driving the transition to a circular economy, especially in light of the failure of REDcycle. Plastics have a disproportionate impact on our ocean and marine life, and the Australian Government needs to step up to address this environmental scourge. Australia has set a national target to recover 70% of plastic packaging by 2025, but plastic recycling rates are unlikely to exceed 46% by 2025 with no new investment.

“We welcome the $355 million funding boost for existing national parks, including marine parks which are vital for building resilience into the oceans. Australia has committed internationally to protect 30% of our land and 30% of our sea yet and the Budget investment needs to match that commitment.

“We acknowledge the already announced increased $163 million funding for the Australian Institute of Marine Science, whose work is so important in protecting the Great Barrier Reef.”