The Australian government today announced the creation of the world’s largest marine reserve in the Coral Sea, including the world’s second largest highly protected zone at more than 500,000 km2 – a historic moment for ocean conservation in Australia and globally.
Australia’s Coral Sea, east of the Great Barrier Reef, is one of the last remaining intact tropical ocean ecosystems in the world where populations of large ocean predators – sharks, tunas, and marlin – have not been severely reduced. The waters are home to healthy coral reefs, atolls, cays, and islands that provide shelter to reef fish, sea turtles, and seabirds.
Equivalent in size to Spain, the Coral Sea marine national park will be safeguarded from all extractive activity, including mining, oil and gas development, and fishing. In addition, its creation will ensure the protection of more than a third of its namesake fragile coral reefs.
“The government’s intention to protect the entire Coral Sea from mining (including petroleum exploration and development) and almost all of it from trawling will help secure the future of one of the world’s most important tropical seas”, said Ms Zethoven of the Pew Environment Group.
“We welcome the decision not to allow fishing on five additional reefs compared to the draft plan released for public comment late last year”, Ms Zethoven said.
Each coral reef in this remote ocean region is exceptionally distinctive. Hundreds of globally threatened corals and other marine animals are known to live there. Many species occur nowhere else in the world.
More than 486,900 people called for strong protection for the Coral Sea; we believe that this is the highest level of public support ever received by the Australian government for an environmental issue.
View the government’s official maps here.
More than 300 marine scientists from 35 countries, including Australia, have endorsed a science statement calling for the establishment of a worldwide system of very large, highly protected marine reserves in areas like the Coral Sea.
In the past 50 years, more than 90 percent of the world’s large predatory oceangoing fish have disappeared because of overfishing. Source: R A Myers & B Worm, Nature, Vol 423, 15 May 2003.
Less than 1 percent of the world’s oceans are fully protected.Tweet