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MEDIA RELEASE: Australia's Marine Parks Network means loss of protection unequalled in Australian history

Wed 21 March 2018

Leading marine conservation groups say the Turnbull Government’s moves to finalise and implement a rezoned network of marine parks around Australia are long overdue and short on delivering urgently needed protection.

The new plans would strip away half of the high level green zone protection from Australia’s marine parks network. A total of 35 million hectares will be removed from the network, which is an area twice the size of Victoria.

Michelle Grady from The Pew Charitable Trusts for the Save our Marine Life Alliance said, “These plans are the marine equivalent to removing every second national park on land. This would be the biggest removal of protection for Australian wildlife in history.

“Australia’s most iconic marine tourism destinations will be failed by these plans, including Lord Howe Island, Geographe Bay, the Kimberley and the Coral Sea - the cradle to the Great Barrier Reef”. These plans would undermine Australia’s marine tourism, which is worth $28billion per annum.”

“The Turnbull Government’s plans ignore the decades of science, the advice of its own independent review, the wishes of local communities, and the voice of hundreds of thousands of Australians who have been consulted over the years,” said Darren Kindleysides, CEO of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

“37 of the 44 marine parks are proposed to contain destructive commercial fishing activities like trawling, gillnetting and longlining. And 30 out of the 44 marine parks are open to mining,” said Mr Kindleysides.

The plans are contrary to the long standing and impressive record of the conservatives in Australia, who started this process 20 years ago, putting in place 21 marine parks and up-zoning the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to 34% no-take.

Green zones protect important feeding and protecting areas of Australia’s valuable fish stocks and iconic marine life.

The Government is expected to table the proposals today, which is a culmination of a review that began in 2014 under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The final decision on the management plans will be made by the Australian Parliament.

Ends:

For comment: 
AMCS Communications Manager, Ingrid Neilson: 0421 972 731
Pew Charitable Trusts, Michelle Grady: 0437 563 388

Background:

In November 2012 Australia made history by declaring the world’s largest network of marine parks and sanctuaries to protect the most biodiverse waters on the planet.

The marine parks network covered 3.2 million square kilometres from the cool temperate waters of the South-West to the tropical waters of the Coral Sea. Marine icons like the Coral Sea, Lord Howe Island, Geographe Bay, the Kimberley and Great Australian Bight were protected.

The process to establish the network of marine parks and sanctuaries was the result of decades of work by all sides of politics. It was initiated under the Howard Government with the final marine parks declared by the Gillard Government in 2012.

In response to the Turnbull Government’s draft plans in 2017, more than 80,000 Australians made a submission rejecting the proposed cuts and calling for an increase in marine protection. This included more than 16,000 recreational fishers asking for an increase in protection.

Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and The Pew Charitable Trusts are part of the Save our Marine Life Alliance, representing over a quarter of a million Australians.

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