A proposal has been put forward by Environment Minister Tony Burke last week to establish the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve in Australian waters. But is it enough to protect our precious reefs?
In a move to create the world's largest marine park, the government has made a draft plan to fully protect 989,842 km2. How big is that on a map? Well, just over half the size of Queensland. This is only the eastern Coral Sea though. The proposed park will start 60km from the coast, extending out 1100 km. Recreational and charter fishing would still be permitted on its western side. The area within Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone is in near pristine condition. But some important species are under pressure from over-harvesting and habitat degradation.
“We cannot afford to be complacent," the minister said in a statement. "In the space of one lifetime, the world's oceans have gone from being relatively pristine to being under increasing pressure."
Mr Burke said the Coral Sea's environmental significance lay in its diverse array of coral reefs, sandy cays, deep sea plains and canyons. It contains more than 20 outstanding examples of isolated tropical reefs, sandy cays and islands.
‘Not good enough’
Both the Greens and the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) say the draft plan is a good start but falls short of the scale of protection needed for the Coral Sea. The marine conservation initiative Protect Our Coral Sea, agrees the government’s draft plan is a good start, but isn’t good enough.
The problems with the plan, according to the Protect Our Coral Sea media statement are:
1 . Only 2 of 25 reefs are given a high level of protection.
2. Important breeding sites for ocean giants such as tuna and marlin, and vital habitats for turtles, whales and sharks remain open to fishing.
On their website you can sign a petition that will be sent to federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, before the 90-day public comment period ends.
Mining A proposed ban on oil and gas exploration in the Coral Sea is good news for environmentalists and fishers and everyone who loves the Great Barrier Reef, because toxins released during gas exploration has proved to damage marine life and oil spills are, as we all have seen too many times before, fatal for fish, marine mammals and turtles,
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
YOUR OPINION PLEASE!
What do you think? Is this proposal enough to protect our marine life, or should the government make a greater commitment?