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  • Marine parks: an investment in the future of Australia's oceans

    Marine Parks - an investment in the future of Australia's oceans. Image by Troy Mayne, Oceanic Imagery

Commonwealth Marine Parks

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. This network provided protection for six of the world’s seven species of sea turtle, feeding grounds for the blue whale, huge schools of big fish like tuna and marlin, and precious coral reefs teeming with life. However, these important sanctuaries are now at risk. 


The marine parks network covered 2.3 million square kilometres from the cool temperate waters of the South-West to the tropical waters of the Timor and Coral Seas. Special places like the Perth Canyon, underwater mountains of the Coral Sea and seagrass meadows of the Top End were protected.

The process to establish the network of marine parks and sanctuaries had bi-partisan support and was initiated under the Howard Government with the final marine parks declared by the Gillard Government. Six rounds of public consultation were conducted and over three quarters of a million people provided submissions into the marine parks process. The final network was supported by 70 per cent of Australians, making it one of the most popular decisions of our time. 

Despite this overwhelming public support the Abbott Government suspended the new marine parks and sanctuaries in 2013, announcing a drawn out and costly review and leaving our offshore sanctuaries unprotected and at risk. The results of this review, released in September 2016, ignore scientific evidence and the opinions of tourism operators and recreational fishers in favour of commercial exploitation.   

John_Rumney Minke Whale

A centrepiece of the report proposes to cut back huge sanctuary protection in Queensland’s Coral Sea and expand commercial fishing in its place. As well as carving up our Coral Sea Sanctuary, these plans pander to the oil industry in the Kimberley and Great Australian Bight. They pave the way for damaging trawling in the North, gillnetting in the South, and cut back crucial sanctuary protection at Lord Howe and Bremer Bay – including a southern right whale nursery! This comes at the very time our marine life is under increasing pressure from coral bleaching, mangrove die-off and disappearing kelp forests.

Australian’s continue to strongly support the full restoration of our national network of sanctuaries and reject the proposed cutbacks – recently an amazing 50,000 people made a submission calling on the Government to save our sanctuaries !

AMCS is fighting to save our sanctuaries - stay updated for ways you can help.

Green sea turtle