In 2012, you helped make history in Australia with the creation of the world’s largest network of marine protected areas (MPAs). This marked a giant stride forward in ocean protection made possible by the overwhelming support shown by ocean lovers from around the world like you. Thank you!
However, the tide can turn quickly and right now our marine sanctuaries are at risk. In December 2013, after 15 years of extensive scientific investigation and the most thorough public consultation process in Australia's History, the Government suspended the implementation of the sanctuary management plans.
Now, the introduction of these new protections has been frozen as the Government embarks on a process of further consultation and review. This review could take up to two years and will decide the future of our sanctuaries. But with your help, we can keep the pressure on and ensure our hard fought battles don't come undone.
Stay tuned for all the action and alerts. We're working with our partner and community at large and will keep you informed of our progress and the actions you can take directly to help make a difference. Together we can ensure this ocean legacy you helped create is secured for years to come.
Marine Protected Areas are areas of the ocean where extractive activities such as fishing and mining are more strictly regulated than the surrounding waters. They are known by many names such as marine parks or shark sanctuaries. Some MPAs are zoned to allow multiple uses, meaning only some of their area is fully protected in no-take zones.
Studies show that MPAs allow marine life to recover from overfishing and result in more fish in surrounding areas as well as bring economic advantages to neighboring communities through marine tourism.
MPAs can protect sharks that have a limited range, especially when they protect aggregation areas such as nurseries. If part of an effective network, MPAs can also protect migrating sharks over a range of habitats through which they travel.
Myth: Marine reserves lock out recreational fishers
Over 90% of Australian marine waters within 100 km of shore will remain open to recreational fishing. In fact, 18 of 25 coral reefs in the Coral Sea will remain open to recreational and charter fishing. The closest a no-take zone comes to shore in the Coral Sea is 210 kms from Cairns and 330 kms from Townsville.
Myth: Australia will need to import more seafood
Australia already imports 70% of its seafood, a figure that has risen steadily in recent years despite no significant new marine reserves.
Myth: It's the end of the Australian fishing industry
Less than 1% of the fishing industry will be affected and the federal government has pledged $100 million to assist affected fishing businesses. The new marine reserves will lead to more sustainable fisheries safeguarding the industry for the future.
Myth: Australian fisheries are underexploited
Research in 2010 showed 42% of Australia's fish stocks are either overfished or unknown. Australian waters are low in nutrients, similar to our land, and slow to recover from overfishing.
Project AWARE is a proud member of the Save Our Marine Life Alliance - a coalition of environmental groups working to protect and secure the world's largest network of marine reserves around Australia.