Burke to announce 44 new marine reserves
FISHING, oil and gas exploration are set to be limited when the federal Government introduces a world-first network of marine reserves around Australia.
Environment Minister Tony Burke will release the final plan for 44 marine parks including the Coral Sea and the southwest coast of Western Australia today (Thursday).
The new reserves will cover 3.1 million sq/km, or a third of Australian waters.
The reserves will limit fishing and some oil and gas exploration.
Mr Burke will unveil the marine reserve maps at Sydney Aquarium this morning.
“This new network of marine reserves will help ensure that Australia’s diverse marine environment and the life it supports, remain healthy, productive and resilient for future generations,” Mr Burke told Sydney media today.
The marine reserve announcement comes on the eve of the United Nations Rio+20 conference on sustainable development in Brazil.
Environment group Pew described the marine reserve plan as a “turning point” in marine protection.
Spokeswoman Michelle Grady says establishing large marine sanctuaries would lead to rapid growth in eco-tourism and increased stocks of marine life.
“But critical areas remain vulnerable to the threat of oil spills, including the tourist mecca of Margaret River, the blue whale feeding grounds off South Australia’s Kangaroo Island and the extraordinary coral reefs at Rowley Shoals off the Kimberley coast,” she says.
Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive, Don Henry, says the plan will make Australia a “global leader” in ocean protection.
“Although the reserve network bans oil and gas exploration in the Coral Sea, the northwest region has been left vulnerable to these threats,” he says.
Commercial fishers are set to receive compensation from the federal Government.
“We’ve got an adjustment policy where we will work case by case with the different companies involved,” he says.