On 13th December 2013, the Australian Government took a major step backwards for marine conservation, suspending the implementation of management plans for the 33 new marine parks, including parks in the Coral Sea, the Kimberley and the Great Australian Bight. These management plans outline the levels of protection the parks provide to fragile ocean habitat and the marine species within them.
Environmental groups, including Project AWARE, have released a report, highlighting the unique marine life in NSW, Australia which is currently at risk should the State Government decide to wind back marine protection. In a joint effort to call on the State Government to review this decision, the report was recently presented to Members of Parliament.
Dive store owners from across New South Wales (NSW), Australia have united, writing to Premier O’Farrell urging him to reverse the decision to allow fishing in marine sanctuaries and reinstate the protection the ocean requires.
Measures to protect the critically endangered grey nurse shark have been announced by the NSW government. Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson introduced regulations that include banning baited hook fishing in key breeding areas for the species along the NSW coastline.
"Our overall goal is to protect the grey nurse shark," she told reporters at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary today.
"They are the puppies of the ocean - they're not Jaws.They are very gentle creatures but we're down to the last 1500 or so."
Diving on the east coast of Australia is incredible; warm tropical seas or cool temperate waters, both support an amazing array of marine life. Great schools of fish swarm in the dappled sunlight with perhaps a passing turtle or ray in the background. But at a handful of dive sites you see none of this; your eyes are firmly fixed on the circling grey nurse sharks.