Today’s marine parks announcement has excluded most of the reefs in the Coral Sea from adequate protection, missing an opportunity to create the world’s largest marine national park in this area of unique natural beauty and outstanding conservation value.
“Minister Burke recognised the unique value of the Coral Sea today – describing it as the jewel in the crown – but too few of the jewels in this crown are fully protected,” said Australian Greens spokesperson for the Coral Sea, Senator Larissa Waters.
“The number of reefs that qualify for full protection as marine national park has increased from two to seven since previous drafts, but this still leaves 18 of the Coral Sea’s reefs – more than two thirds – open to some commercial fishing and game and sport fishing.
“Coral reefs are important breeding sites and feeding grounds for the spectacular array of marine life in the Coral Sea. We have learnt from the Great Barrier Reef that green zones mean greater numbers of larger fish, which is good for a long-term sustainable fishing industry.
“It is a missed opportunity with the Coral Sea abutting the Great Barrier Reef for Australia to be home to the world’s largest marine national park.
“The Greens support fair compensation for the small numbers of commercial fishers operating in the Coral Sea who will be affected once this plan comes into effect later in the year.
“The exclusion of mining and petroleum exploration and development from the whole Coral Sea is very welcome and will help to maintain the area in good condition.”