In November 2012 we made history by supporting the creation of the world's largest network of marine reserves including the second largest marine national park in Australia.
This giant stride forward in ocean protection happened due to overwhelming support shown by ocean lovers from around the world. You may have added your voice through the Project AWARE website.
Thanks to your ongoing rallying support we've made the strongest arguments possible to ensure the world's largest network of marine parks receives world class protection.
As we wait for the Australian Government's final outcomes on how the parks will be managed, we can be proud that toegther divers and ocean advocates around the world continue to do what we can to secure a brighter future for our ocean.
We'll keep you informed! Thanks for your support so far.
What are MPAs?
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.
Recently there has been much misinformation about the new marine reserves - let's bust some of those myths:Myth: Marine reserves lock out recreational fishers
Over 90% of Australian marine waters within 100 km of shore will remain open to recreational fishing. 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 member of two groups campaigning for MPAs in Australia:
The Protect Our Coral Sea group is seeking protection for the Coral Sea, which lies adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. The Coral Sea is home to 52 species of deepwater sharks, 18 of which are found nowhere else. Osprey Reef is one of the top 10 shark dives in the world and generally the density of sharks in the Coral Sea is higher than the Great Barrier Reef.
The Save Our Marine Life coalition of environmental groups is seeking protection for south west Australian waters. In these cool waters as much as 90% of marine life is found nowhere else on earth. Great white sharks patrol here and grey nurse sharks hang out in shallow sand gutters. Both species are listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.