Excerpt From Wild Politics Blog by Margi Prideaux.
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.