Australia’s new marine parks were voted on last night in Parliament taking us one step closer to finally making our new marine parks permanent.
You’d remember that Australia declared the largest network of marine parks in the world last November. If you missed if, here’s the map.
It’s normally a mere formality, but approval for any new parks and sanctuaries is needed from Federal Parliament before they become law. This vote occurs in both the Lower and Upper Houses.
The excellent news is that last night the Lower House voted and all new marine parks and sanctuaries were approved. This is a fantastic result, but there is one more hurdle to be cleared when the Upper House (Senate) votes on the 25th June.
Traditionally our marine life has enjoyed strong support from both sides of politics with Liberals protecting the Great Barrier Reef and the current Labor government delivering today’s outcome. However in a sign of today’s heavily polarized politics the vote was split along progressive/conservative party lines with the Independents carrying the day FOR marine parks and sanctuaries.
This split in Parliament, however, doesn’t tell the whole story and the majority of conservative MPs remain marine park supporters. With your help over coming months we hope to bring their views to the fore so the Liberal Party returns to its traditional position of supporting marine parks. You can contact your local MP with an automated email here to help keep them, or get them back, on track.
In the meantime this result has been a great one for our marine life. We’ll let you know when the final vote occurs at the end of June in the Senate.
You can read the ABC Online story covering the vote here.
Thanks for seeing this through right to the finish line.
Last Sunday a rally was held by the recreational fishing lobby group Keep Australia Fishing in opposition to Australia’s new national network of marine parks.
Despite extensive advertising, give-aways and celebrity speakers the rally attracted just 80 people to an angling club which itself has over 1,000 members.
It is now clear that fishing families and the broader fishing community have seen through the scare tactics of marginal fishing lobby groups on the issue of marine parks. The repeatedly poor attendance at this and other recent fisher rallies has also demonstrated that, like the overwhelming majority of Australians, recreational fishers see the protection of key feeding and breeding areas as common sense.
On the same day a group of around 400 recreational fishers rallied a short drive away in Geelong against an issue of concern to all of us – the commercial gill netting of Port Phillip Bay.
These indiscriminate fishing nets are depleting fish stocks and having a significant impact on the local environment. They are affecting the enjoyment of average recreational fishers and attracting a genuine level of concern in the community. They offered no celebrities, Members of Parliament or give-aways and yet still attracted a crowd five times larger because, unlike opposition to marine parks, gill netting is a genuine community issue.
This month as Parliament considers the management plans of the new Australian marine reserves we welcome this latest clear evidence that the fishing community has seen through anti-conservation campaigns by lobby groups from the margins, and that they support sensible, scientific and balanced marine protection.
Plastic pollution is a nightmare for Australia’s marine life.
Every day, turtles and other marine animals mistake plastic bags and degrading plastic drink bottles for food, with devastating consequences. However the good news is that we now have a chance to stop this.
Australia’s States and Territories are on the brink of committing to a program which would stop most disposable containers from entering our oceans. At a special meeting in June, State Environment Ministers will decide whether to sign up to a program to pay 10 cents for every plastic bottle returned to recycling stations. Can you imagine? The improvement along our coasts and beaches would be dramatic.
Unfortunately, backroom lobbyists and pressure from Coca-Cola, the company that makes most plastic bottles in Australia, has made some States think twice about committing to ‘Cash for Containers’. The good news is that together we have the upper hand. Nothing moves politicians like hearing directly from voters.
We’re asking marine supporters to send a short message today saying how much you support the Cash for Containers program. You just need your postcode and the res
t is easily done from our web page at www.SaveOurMarineLife.org.au
This is one of those moments when one person can make a real and tangible difference. Imagine every drink bottle you buy displaying “10c refund available in Australia”. How good would it be, knowing that you were part of making that happen, saving the lives of so many turtles, seabirds and dolphins? It would be the equivalent of picking up hundreds of tonnes of marine plastic along the beach, just with a few clicks.
Thanks for being counted and making the most of this exciting opportunity.
You and every single member of the Big Blue Army have left something very real for future generations that we should all be proud of.
Who would have thought that by the end of 2012 together we would have:
- Created the world’s largest network of marine reserves;
- Kicked Super Trawler Margiris, out of Australia’s waters;
- Helped protect the best of South Australia’s unique marine environment.
From our team behind-the-scenes we want to say THANK YOU. It’s been an incredible year!
For fun we’ve produced a timeline using our most memorable pictures and videos (and a very cool online widget) that shows how we got here. It features a brand new short video we’ve put together featuring one of the rock stars of the marine science world, Dr Daniel Pauly, who has a message for us.
Have a wonderful break over coming weeks, best wishes for the new year, and once again a very sincere ‘thanks’ for all you’ve done.
From the team at Save Our Marine Life
Hot on the heels of the Australian Government’s declaration of a national network of marine reserves just 2 weeks ago, this week there’s been more great news on the marine protection front, this time from South Australia.
You may remember that a month ago we asked you to send your message of support encouraging the South Australian government to protect the very best marine places along the state’s vast coastline. Thousands of supporters responded.
Well, the great news is that on Thursday this week, buoyed by the level of public support, the South Australian Government officially proclaimed 19 new marine parks and marine sanctuaries. These will now protect 6% of state waters within which lies some of the state’s most remarkable marine places. These places have been described as the marine equivalent of Kakadu, Kings Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef or the Blue Mountains. They are also havens for the world’s most endangered sea lion, leafy sea dragons, giant cuttlefish and southern right whales.
Thank you and congratulations to everyone that took action and to the Wilderness Society, a member of the Save Our Marine Life Allliance, for leading the charge on the ground.
You can see and read the ABC News report about it here.
Once again thanks to all marine supporters for being part of another historic step forward for our marine life. It’s been a remarkable month!
PS – If you haven’t already, please add your name to help protect the ‘Forgotten Four’, including saving Kangaroo Island whales from seismic airguns 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.
Today the Federal Government has officially proclaimed Australia’s new marine reserve network, making our oceans among the best protected in the world. It will be a boon for our coastal lifestyle and herald a new era of scientific discovery that will help reveal the multitude of treasures hidden beneath our waves.
Australia has the third largest ocean jurisdiction in the world and is home to some of the world’s most unique marine life. Whilst the Great Barrier Reef and adjacent Coral Sea are well known marine life icons, other lesser-known regions such as the South West are home to up to an amazing 90% unique marine life and half the world’s whale and dolphin species.
These diverse but fragile ecosystems support our unique diving and fishing experiences, our seafood and tourism industries, and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Today’s decision will add 33 new marine parks to the 27 currently in our waters.
Many of these are vast, such as the Coral Sea Marine Park protecting this Serengeti of the seas, home to a near pristine population of threatened whales, dolphins, sharks and tuna. Or the Diamantina Fracture Zone, protecting Australia’s largest mountain range that sits in 7 kilometres of our southern coasts.
Others protect important areas closer to shore, such as a new marine park in Geographe Bay, Western Australia. This park stops damaging gillnet and trawl fishing in this critical fish breeding and whale resting area, and also provides new marine sanctuaries throughout the Bay that will allow us to study the effects of historical overfishing and see what a pristine near shore ecosystem really looks like in WA. Local divers, fishers and tourism operations alike will benefit.
In the Northwest of the country, a new marine sanctuary will complement new state marine parks in adding much needed protection to the Camden Sound area of the Kimberley humpback whale nursery.
Professor Jessica Meeuwig from the University of WA’s Oceans Institute also praised the new marine reserve network and said science discovery is now likely to flourish as Australia’s status as a world leader in marine conservation takes effect.
“So little is still known about our oceans and new discoveries occur regularly. New knowledge will only increase as science research expands to take advantage of the opportunities for discovery in the new national system of marine sanctuaries,” said Professor Meeuwig.
The first comprehensive Census of Marine Life, published in 2010, revealed that as much as 80 per cent of marine life in Australia’s oceans is yet to be named.
The creation of the national network of marine parks is the product of a 14-year-long journey that began in 1998 as a Howard government initiative. Since then a vast effort of scientific discovery and community consultation has culminated in the new marine parks. In total, half a million pieces of correspondence were sent to Government supporting the network, including 80,000 people supporting the final network during consultation. Today we congratulate Tony Burke and the Gillard Government for completing the mammoth task of bringing all the information together and creating our national marine reserve network.
Science and our lifestyle will not be the only winners, with the tourism industry also likely to benefit. Marine parks have been proven to be economically successful. The success of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which generates in excess of $1 billion in revenue for local communities and the Queensland economy, is testament to the tourism appeal of marine parks.
This couldn’t have happened without the community. The Save Our Marine Life Alliance would like to thank all the thousands of people who have supported the campaign over the last four years.
However, no one is under any illusion that the job of protecting our oceans has been resolved overnight. Despite the important contribution the new marine parks will make, much remains to be done to address over fishing and threats such as oil spills. We must look for ways to address these threats and improve on the protection we’ve won.
And the great news is that we have an immediate and easy opportunity to do just that. The door has been left open for a few months to make small but extremely important improvements on top of what we have just secured. We’ll tell you more about this opportunity next week.
But for now we should appreciate and celebrate what we have achieved together for our planet and its people. This weekend go to the beach, go snorkeling or diving, catch a wave or wet a line. Enjoy what you have helped to protect and feel inspired that there is nothing that can stand in the way when a committed community takes action together.
See media coverage of the proclamation here.
Join us on Facebook to share your thoughts here.
View maps of the new marine reserves here.
Right now the South Australian Government is considering protecting the most remarkable marine treasures along the State’s vast coastline. Like the recent Federal process to protect Australia’s Commonwealth waters, it’s a momentous decision which will help determine the fate of our unique southern marine life. But it needs a hand from marine lovers around the country before the deadline of Monday 22 October 2012.
At stake are the very best, the most spectacular marine icons along a vast coastline. These places are South Australia’s marine equivalent of Kakadu, Kings Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef or the Blue Mountains. They are also havens for the world’s most endangered sea lion, leafy sea dragons, giant cuttlefish and southern right whales.
With less than 1% of South Australia’s marine waters protected, and new threats such as faster, larger fishing charter vessels targeting pristine areas previously beyond reach, the opportunity can’t come fast enough.
Send your message of support here today. The two minutes it takes will make a real difference in convincing the South Australian Government to protect these very special places for the future.
The highlights of SA’s marine parks network
The SA marine parks network protects an amazing variety of marine species and contains:
- more than 720 fish species, including tropical and cold water species;
- over 1,200 species of marine algae; 80% of the world’s total population of Australian sea lions, including the largest known breeding colony at Dangerous Reef;
- the world’s largest known breeding aggregation of giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama);
- the world’s smallest live-bearing starfish, measuring only 5mm across and known locally as “Little Patty”, found only on the western Eyre Peninsula;
- feeding grounds for many whale species, including the endangered blue and sperm whales;
- the Head of the Great Australian Bight, a place of global conservation significance for breeding and calving for southern right whales.
Special habitats and places also protected within the marine parks network include:
- spectacular 90 metre high limestone cliffs from the Western Australian border to the Tchalingaby Sandhills;
- some of the largest mangrove forests in southern Australia in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park;
- significant expanses of seagrass meadows (in Australia, only Western Australia has more temperate water seagrass);
- the Coorong, a Ramsar listed wetland of international importance, which also includes the longest high energy beaches in the southern hemisphere; unique deep water trenches in Backstairs Passage, supporting sponges up to one metre in diameter and large gorgonian corals;
- the only plate corals found in South Australian waters, in the Nuyts Archipelago Marine Park;
- colonies of unusually large stony coral Plesiastrea versipora, measuring up to 1.5 metres high, in the Franklin Harbor Marine Park;
- the only South Australian bull and giant kelp forests, found in the Lower South East Marine Park.
It’s official! Creating the world’s largest network of marine parks is this government’s most popular decision to-date.
The findings of this new polling research were reported extensively in national media, of which the Sky News report here was indicative.
An analysis of public opinion research since June 2010 found that 70% of Australians supported the Federal Government’s decision to create the world’s largest network of marine parks, making it the most popular decision the government has made since Julia Gillard became Prime Minister.
Essential Research conducts a weekly national, online poll that samples the opinions of 1000+ Australians, drawn from a panel of more than 110,000. After marine sanctuaries, the next most popular results were the decision to increase compulsory superannuation contributions (69% support), and the Gonski Report Recommendations for school reforms (68% support). The decision also ranks higher than the introduction of paid maternity leave, aged care reforms and other environmental issues such as returning water to the Murray-Darling River system.
This is great news, since we are now within the Federal Government’s official public comment period on the new marine sanctuary network.
If you would like to add your voice to this overwhelming support for marine protection, you can send a positive comment about the plan to Environment Minister Tony Burke here.
Thanks for your support.
Check out this amazing 2 minute video from the University of WA’s underwater marine science cameras to see what you’ve helped protect in Australia’s South West.
Video Courtesy of the University of Western Australia
This historic decision to create the world’s largest network of marine protected areas needs our support, and the more voices we have, the more marine life we save. Please ask your friends to join the Big Blue Army.
This week’s Essential Report from Essential Media Communications (EMC) has confirmed overwhelming support in the Australian community for the marine reserves recently announced for Australia’s Commonwealth waters.
With a sample size of 1000, the poll conducted on 20 and 24 June has shown a total of 70% support for the marine reserves, with just 13% disapproval. In an EMC pollster’s words, ‘you don’t get better than that’!
Among Coalition voters, 62% of respondents either strongly approved or approved, with just 22% disapproving. Among Labor voters, 79% of respondents either strongly approved or approved, with just 8% disapproving. The Greens were most supportive, with 89% supporting and 1% disapproving. The only surprise result here is, where did the 1% disapproval come from within the Greens?
The polling question was:
Q. The Federal Government recently announced plans to protect large areas of Australia’s marine environment in a network of marine reserves. Do you approve or disapprove of these plans?
The breakdown of responses on a party by party and approval basis is as follows:
|Vote Labor||Vote Lib/Nat||Vote Greens|
The report, which also outlines the polling methodology, can be found online at http://essentialvision.com.au/
The announcement of these marine reserves signals an official recognition of the key threats to our oceans and a clear change in direction toward safeguarding critical areas for the future. Just like national parks on land, marine sanctuaries are now an accepted and mainstream part of the national agenda to address the unprecedented challenges facing our natural environment.
And while this is an historic step forward, none of us would be under any illusions that the challenge of protecting our oceans would be resolved overnight, and many important marine hotspots remain at risk.
However as reflected in these polling results, this is an extremely popular decision which is widely supported by the Australian community. It will serve to help protect our great Australian coastal lifestyle and our unique marine life into the future and set an example for other countries around the world to follow.
» In the Media
- Sydney Morning Herald: With barely one vote to spare, marine reserve patchwork was saved June 11, 2013
- ABC News: Coalition motions to kill off Government’s marine parks fail June 4, 2013
- The Australian: Oppn motions to block marine parks fail June 4, 2013
- ABC Radio AM: Marine Park Stouch June 4, 2013
- 9 News: Richard Branson gets ocean protector award May 10, 2013
- Canberra Times: Without wetlands, what will protect the Great Barrier Reef? May 6, 2013
- ABC News: Container deposit scheme urged to save turtles May 2, 2013
- ABC News: Study suggests bigger marine parks offer better protection April 16, 2013