Post of the Month: Australia’s New Population Debate: An Environment Issue?

This month’s post of the month as decided by number of readers was: Australia’s New Population Debate: An Environmental Issue?

First posted 9th April, 2010, this is now the third time this has been post of the month.  Obviously a hot topic on Google.

Thanks to all readers, commenters and subscribers!

And thanks to Best Green Blogs for listing The Happy Squid Blog.

Note you can subscribe to the blog by email via the box at the top of the right hand column of this page or follow me on Twitter (@Happy_Squid).

With summer approaching and big decisions expected on new marine sanctuaries for Western Australia that will determine the fate of our South West marine life for the next ten years, this month is the time to support the Save Our Marine Life campaign.

You can also see more about the amazing South West marine life in the new online book ‘Atlantis Found’.

Wishing you a Happy December!


‘Atlantis Found’ – Australia’s First Scuba Book Launch

The Underwater Explorers Club of WA (UEC) hosted Save Our Marine Life and Conservation Council of WA on Saturday to launch new book ‘Atlantis Found’ at Jackson’s Reef off Rottnest Island, near Fremantle, WA.

‘Atlantis Found’ is an online flip book that describes Australia’s unique South West marine waters, home to marine life that rivals the Great Barrier Reef. With up to 90% unique marine life, Australia’s biggest mountains and deepest canyon, the poorly known region truly is Australia’s Atlantis – and now it is found.

Take the ‘Atlantis Found’ tour of the unique South West at

Save Our Marine Life is campaigning for a network of marine sanctuaries in this unique region, where currently less than 1% of waters are protected.

Government Acts to Protect Southern Bluefin Tuna, Sort of

Today the Government announced that Southern Bluefin Tuna would be listed as a threatened species in Australia.

However, it will only be listed as ‘conservation dependent’, meaning there is no change to existing fishing arrangements.  This is despite international conservation body the IUCN considering the species critically endangered.

Interestingly, the tuna industry is still not happy with the listing.  They are trying to claim the species is recovering, despite stock levels being reported at less than 8% of pre-fishing population.

More in this ABC story.

Recently the Japanese defeated an international move to place a trade ban on endangered northern bluefin tuna, assisted by the Australian delegation.

More on tuna sustainability via Happy Squid here.


Montara Report Released: Sanctuaries, not just Regulation, Required to Protect from Oil Spills

Humpack whales migrate along WA's coat

Less than 1% of WA's coast is protected

The Government has released their response to the Montara Oil Spill Inquiry today.

Some media coverage here.

The move to improved regulation is important, but that was not the lesson of Montara.  The devastating spill happened not due to the wrong rules, but due to a series of mistakes by a series of people.

The lesson of Montara is that people make mistakes and oil spills happen.

More bureaucracy alone is not going to stop oil spills.  Whilst improving regulation, it is also important that the Government recognise that some areas are just too important to risk.  What we really need to protect our marine life and important coastal areas from spills is  a network of marine sanctuaries.

Having areas off limits to oil drilling will give more certainty to the industry for future planning, whilst also providing a buffer for important environments from the affects of big oil spills, and eliminating the risk of more regular smaller spills.

Marine sanctuaries where wild life is protected from both fishing and oil spills are essential to the future health of our oceans, just like we have National Parks free from hunting and mining on land.

The lessons of the Montara spill will be lost on us if we don’t act on establishing new marine sanctuaries at the same time as we act to improve regulatory structures.

More information on Montara Spill and marine sanctuaries in a previous post here.

Also of concern is that the Government does not seem to be acting to help the Indonesia fishermen whose livelihood was devastated by the spill. It has been reported that some are now turning to people smuggling to support their families.  The Australian Government needs to deal with this tragic consequence of the oil spill too.

As we have also seen in the Gulf of Mexico, oil spills devastate marine life, and the social fabric of coastal communities.

Will Australian Environment Minister Burke deliver on marine protected areas?

Excerpt From Wild Politics Blog by Margi Prideaux.

Full blog piece click here.

The science of protection stacks up. The international community has spoken. Will Minister Burke deliver on marine protected areas?

A few weeks ago, the great and the good convened in Nagoya, Japan to deliberate the future of our planet…

This is particularly pertinent for Australia because we are in the midst of deciding the level of protection to be applied to a large section of our coastline and offshore areas. The south east declarations have been completed. Next is the southwest, from the eastern tip of Kangaroo Island to the waters off Shark Bay, then the northwest, the north and finally the east from the northern tip of Cape York to the New South Wales town of Bermagu.

Today, scientists from the University of Queensland have released a comprehensive and deep study gathering the best available scientific data and applying world leading design principles to their recommendations. ‘Systematic Conservation Planning – A Network of Marine Sanctuaries for the South West Marine Region’ identifies that 50 per cent of the south west region will need to be protected in a network of marine sanctuaries if the marine life is to remain healthy. For clarity, sanctuaries are areas where extractive uses such as commercial fishing and oil and gas are not allowed. Currently, less than 1 per cent of the south west region is protected from these threats.

At the same time 44 of Australia’s leading marine and social scientists in support of marine protection have released a consensus statement – ‘Scientific Principles for Design of Marine Protected Areas in Australia’ – as  a peer-level guidance on the selection, design, and implementation of marine protected areas. They concur that significant protection is needed/

Earlier this month another study by the University of Queensland provided a damning assessment of the success of Australia’s national parks, marine parks and nature reserves that are failing to adequately protect more than 80 per cent of Australia’s threatened species. Their study detailed how the fundamental aim of securing species most at risk was not being achieved. Yet another recent study by the University of the Sunshine Coast revealed ancient, giant coral reefs found on Australia undersea mountains are being wiped out by trawling on the sea floor confirming the importance of maintaining and extending Australia’s marine protected areas.

Australian Greens Back University of Queensland Call for Marine Sanctuary Protection

The Greens have backed the University of Queensland study that lays out how levels of protection up to 50% of the South West region are required and can be achieved, to protect marine life in commonwealth waters of the south west.

Senator Rachel Siewert said, “This blueprint not only establishes the basis for marine biodiversity protection, it sets out a future for sustainable fishing, tourism and recreation which should support local industries, preserve fish stocks and protects our existing biodiversity.

“It is time to stop the scare campaign against marine sanctuaries we saw during the recent federal election and look at the science, not the myths.

“This report highlights that extensive marine protection is needed in our south west oceans, to protect our marine biodiversity and ensure fish stocks into the future.”

Full release can be downloaded here.

University of Queensland Blueprint Calls for 50% Marine Sanctuary Protection in South West Australia

Clown fish - less than 1% of WA's marine environment is protected

Clown fish - less than 1% of WA's marine environment is protected

Lately, science has been producing a lot of doom and gloom about our oceans; they are suffering from the effects of overfishing, pollution and climate change – large fish are disappearing, jelly fish are taking over. Today, that changed, with a blueprint from the University of Queensland showing how we can turn around these problems and secure a healthy future for our marine life in the south west corner of Australia.

The Ecology centre blueprint resulted from a two year study by a team of Australia, and Western Australia’s, leading marine conservation planners.  It used a system called Systematic Conservation Planning to examine 3300 data sets including information on 1500 fish species, 500 coastal habitats and the activities of 46 marine industries and recreational activities, to lay out a protection plan for WA’s unique marine life. The analysis was based on guidelines developed by 44 of Australia’s leading marine scientists. It found that a level of 50% protection was necessary, and imminently achievable with a minimal impact on other ocean users and maximising benefits to fishing of protecting breeding grounds.

South West Australia is a pretty special corner of the world, with up too 90% of marine life unique to the region, so it isn’t surprising that they came up with high levels of marine protection.  There are a higher proportion of endemic species in the south west than even on the Great Barrier Reef.  The region is used by one third of the worlds whale and dolphin species.

But this report is special because it goes beyond laying out the problems and calling for conservation. Instead, for the first time, scientists have laid out for all to see how high levels of marine protection can be achieved. It has made what seemed impossible seem imminently achievable.  It gives us hope that we can take the necessary steps to save our marine life from the fate that sometimes seems inevitable.

There is hope that our marine life will be in better health tomorrow than it is today.  That seeing and catching large fish off WA’s coast will not be something our grandfathers remember, but something our children do.

Going from less than 1% protection to 50% protection may seem like a big chance.  But it would be a change significantly for the better, even for the fishermen who may oppose it.

To join the campaign for a better future for WA’s unique marine life,visit Save Our Marine Life.

To download the report and see the media coverage, visit University of Queensland.

To hear Professor Hugh Possingham interview on AM, visit ABC AM.