Marine Reserves review

Just back from a swim – the water is beautiful, the sea immense and so blue it looks impervious to mere human impact. But this is not true.

Valla Rip flags

Valla Beach, Rip flags

Australia has one of the longest coastlines of any country with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 11 million square kilometres. More than 4,000 species of fish live in Australian waters, a quarter are endemic. Australia has the world’s largest and most diverse area of seagrasses, largest area of coral reefs and highest diversity of mangrove species.

I was involved in setting up marine parks in NSW and thank heavens the Government announced last month that most of our NSW marine sanctuaries will be kept. However, the Abbott government has suspended the national network of marine sanctuaries, and begun its costly and unnecessary review. All are now at risk despite plenty of scientific evidence and 750,000 submissions overwhelmingly in support of marine sanctuaries.

You can take action to save our sanctuaries here.  I wrote the following, though I don’t know how the panel is constituted and what they will take notice of – hopefully the scientists.

We know there are more than seven seas, but are not quite sure how many.

We know that a million sea birds die from plastic rubbish, but don’t know the exact figure.

We know that the world’s fishing fleets are 2 or3 times larger than the oceans can sustain, but are unsure of when and how a world-wide collapse of fish stocks will happen.

The 2011 State of the Environment (SoE) reported that:

Marine environments near the coast are suffering;

Human activities are causing significant impacts on the oceans;

the ocean climate is changing and we need to prepare to adapt;

Our understanding of our unique biodiversity is limited; and

The lack of a nationally integrated approach inhibits effective marine management.

We know there is overwhelming scientific evidence to support the use of marine parks for conservation management, and as nurseries for fish stocks – so why another costly and unnecessary review – when the money could be much better spent supporting marine conservation.

But since we have this review, why not implement what we know?