Squids speech from Sandcastle for Sanctuaries

Thanks everyone for coming. Looking forward to seeing the sandcastles! I want you to join me for a moment in looking out at the ocean. Sometimes it is hard to see from here what is happening beneath the waves. In WA, we are very lucky, we have some spectacular and unique marine life. In fact, due to isolation and the unique Leeuwin current that flows along our shores, up to 90% of the marine life found in the southwest is unique to the region. But sadly, those of us who dive, snorkel or fish, know that things aren’t what they used to be. Our ocean should be full of fish. The reefs between here and Rottnest should be packed to the rafters with blue grouper and dhufish and crayfish. But they are not. Luckily though, there is a solution. Science and experience from elsewhere shows us that the establishment of large marine sanctuaries, areas of the ocean where fishing is not allowed, will dramatically reverse the declines in our marine life. In fact, a recent study from the Great Barrier Reef shows that only five years since the establishment of large marine sanctuaries there have been dramatic increases in marine life. The study, completed by a who’s who of Australian marine scientists and published by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, showed that fish densities have doubled in marine sanctuaries. In addition, populations of migratory species were also benefiting, for example sharks, suffering globally from the shark finning trade, were much more abundant on protected reefs. Dugong and turtles were also found to be benefiting from the increased protection. Significantly, the crown of thorns starfish, an introduced species that has destroyed large amounts of reef, was much less abundant in the healthier environment created by marine sanctuaries. Marine sanctuaries make sense economically too. Just two weeks ago the Allen Consulting Group, a major provider of independent advice to Government, released a report showing that a network of marine sanctuaries would provide long term benefits to the Western Australian economy. Benefits included a 20% increase to the tourism industry, taking the whale watching industry to $55million per year, and benefits for commercial and recreational fishing though more sustainable fish stocks. Spill over to the rock lobster industry could be worth almost $3million. The economic report is backed up by experience elsewhere. The number of visitors and people fishing at Ningaloo and the Great Barrier Reef have continued to grow since sanctuary protection was increased from less than 5% to over 30%. Despite these proven benefits of marine sanctuaries, currently less than 1% of WA’s marine environment is protected. Sanctuaries are the only way we will once again see the abundance we once did in our oceans. All across the world, when large marine sanctuaries have been established the benefits have been extraordinary. There is a Federal election this year, and together, we can make sure the Government gives us a network of marine sanctuaries so we can once again have our seas full marine life. This is something we deserve to have in Western Australia. You can help out today by writing a letter to Kevin Rudd at our stall, and when you get home by going to our website, http://www.saveourmarinelife.org.au , and sending our petition to your local MP. Enjoy the sandcastles and stay in touch, with your help we can make this a great year for our unique marine life.

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