The government is determined to ensure a science-based review of Commonwealth marine reserves and zoning boundaries, while maintaining our strong commitment to the marine reserves and their estates.
I can reassure you that the government will not be allowing oil and gas exploration and production in sensitive marine areas, including in sanctuary zones and marine national parks zones of the Commonwealth marine reserves. This restriction will be clearly reflected in the new management plans that will be prepared once the Review is completed.
The government’s aim is to have a sensible balance, which protects the environment, supports a sustainable fishing industry, attracts tourism and provides cultural, recreational and economic benefits for coastal communities
The review was conducted by an Expert Scientific Panel with assistance from five Bioregional Advisory Panels. Panel members were selected for their capacity to facilitate input from a broad range of stakeholders.
The review has been completed and released and public comment has been sought. This first consultation period finished on October 31, 2016 and draft management plans have now been released.
The draft plans cover Commonwealth waters off the coast of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
With 36 percent of waters around Australia covered by marine parks, we have surpassed the United Nations target of 10 percent. The boundaries of Australian Marine Parks remain unchanged, but their management arrangements will allow for sustainable activities like fishing while protecting key conservation features.
We have committed an additional $56.1 million over four years, from 2016–17, to strengthen the management of our marine parks to ensure they are well managed and supported.
The public consultation for the draft plans finished on 20 September, 2017.
The Director of National Parks is now considering the feedback received, before providing final plans to the Minister for the Environment and Energy.