Healthy marine life is central to our Australian lifestyle, our livelihoods, our coastal economies and our global reputation.
But our oceans are under threat – climate change, poorly managed fisheries, coastal development, and pollution threaten the health of our oceans.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are key tools for ocean conservation, helping to reduce stress on marine ecosystems. Human activities are carefully regulated within MPAs, with different activities allowed in different zones. Multi-use zones, for example, allow certain types of commercial fishing. Zones designed to protect the seabed habitat might allow only recreational fishing.
Marine sanctuary zones, also known as marine national parks or green zones, are the highly protected zones where no fishing, mining, dumping, or oil and gas extraction is allowed, but we can visit and enjoy seeing the wildlife – they are the golden egg of marine conservation!
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Scientists say that we need to protect at least 30% of our global oceans within well-connected networks of highly protected marine sanctuaries, by 2030.
Right now, sanctuary areas cover 17% of Australia’s waters, but there are major gaps in the network and many vital habitats remain unprotected – we need to do better.
We need to grow our networks of marine sanctuaries – in both Commonwealth and coastal state waters – to ensure all types of ocean ecosystems are protected. And we need to champion marine protection in areas beyond national borders – the high seas.
As well as establishing networks of marine parks we need to ensure that we tread lightly on our oceans. We need to reduce land-based pollution, make sure our fisheries are sustainable, and take action to address climate pollution.
Our ocean wildlife is under immense pressure and there are not enough sanctuaries to keep the balance. Join us to call for more!
Marine sanctuaries are like national parks on land, where we can enjoy our oceans while boating, swimming, snorkelling and diving, but wildlife and their habitats are fully protected from extractive industries, such as fisheries and oil and gas. They are places where sea life is safe and people can see nature thriving.
It’s simple – if you leave fishes, lobsters and crabs to breed and replenish, over time there are many more and they are bigger than those outside sanctuaries. Just two years after the sanctuary zones were expanded on the Great Barrier Reef in 2004, scientists found that coral trout had increased by 60% in the protected areas. Coral trout, red morwong, mud crabs, rock lobsters, and barramundi are some of the popular seafood species benefiting from the highly protected sanctuaries within marine parks all around Australia. Fisheries benefit too, as these thriving populations spread out beyond the sanctuaries to replenish other areas. Sanctuaries are an insurance policy for the future of seafood.Read more in our Report
Marine sanctuaries protect our unique, vulnerable marine life such as turtles, sharks and dugongs and the habitats on which they depend. They provide protection for important resting, feeding, breeding and nursery areas for a range of marine life – including migratory species such as whales, sharks and manta rays. Sanctuaries allow fishes to breed, spawn and grow without disturbance. These are vital havens where marine life can recover, thrive and build resilience, buffering the impacts of persistent and ongoing threats such as climate change. They also provide important natural areas for education and research.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Conservation Wins for Ningaloo Reef
National Network of Marine Parks
State Marine Parks
AMCS is a key member of Save Our Marine Life – an unprecedented alliance of 27 leading conservation groups working to protect Australia’s marine life and way of life.