The Coalition Government has introduced into the Parliament marine park plans that will cement Australia as a world leader in marine protection.
Our marine parks cover 36 per cent of Commonwealth waters, far more than the international benchmark of 10 per cent. At more than 3.3 million square kilometres, Australia has one of the largest areas of marine parks in the world, second only to the United States.
These plans are the result of scientific input and extensive consultation, including through an independent review and over 130,000 public submissions over two statutory consultations.
The new regime improves on plans introduced but never implemented by Labor in 2012 by delivering a more balanced and scientific evidence-based approach to ocean protection, enabling tourism and well-managed fishing activity supporting local communities, local jobs and regional economies.
Key elements of the Turnbull Government’s plan compared to Labor’s proposed plans include:
- An increase of 200,000 square kilometres in the area with sea floor protection;
- 16 per cent more of the total area of parks will be open to recreational fishing which includes access to 97 per cent of Commonwealth waters within 100 kilometres of the coast. This reduces by 400,000 square kilometres the area from which Labor would have locked out Australia’s five million recreational fishers;
- 17 per cent more of the total area of marine parks open to commercial fishing;
- A four per cent decrease in the total area of marine parks open to mining; and
- The protection of 509 conservation features (reefs and canyons), 344 in the highest levels of protection, compared to 331 in Labor’s plans.
By being more targeted with restrictions and integrating marine park management with world-class fisheries management, we have not only increased conservation protection, but also ensured regional economies are supported.
The government has allocated $56 million to implement these plans, including funding for community engagement and science and an appropriate adjustment package which government will consult with industry on.
Under these plans, Australia will have world-class management of all marine parks in our oceans, starting from July 1, 2018. The plans can be found via www.parksaustralia.gov.au/marine.