Australia creates world's biggest marine park network
Australia has created the world’s biggest network of marine protected areas, as countries prepare to meet for the Rio+20 meeting on sustainable development.
WWF has welcomed the new system of marine parks that would now cover more than one third of the Commonwealth waters of Australia. The jewel in the crown of the new network is the Coral Sea marine park that, together with the adjacent Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, will make up the world’s largest marine park.
WWF-Australian CEO, Dermot O’Gorman, said Australia has the third largest ocean territory in the world that stretches from the tropics to the sub-Antarctic and is home to incredible creatures such as whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks as well as spectacular corals and other ecosystems.
“By declaring more than one third of its waters as marine parks, Australia has made a major advance in marine conservation that is both nationally and globally significant. Coming on the eve of the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, this is an inspiring outcome for other countries to follow,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“Marine sanctuaries provide areas where wildlife can feed and breed and help ensure the food security of millions of people who rely on the ocean for their daily sustenance and livelihoods.”
The Australian network of marine protected areas was announced by the Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke in Sydney and incorporates places like the reefs of the Coral Sea and the deep sea areas off Western Australia.
In welcoming the announcement, WWF expressed some concern that some of Australia’s most critical marine environments had been excluded from the marine park and left vulnerable to industrial exploitation.