A spectacular new online flip book has documented the unique and endangered marine life that is at risk from a NSW Government decision to wind back marine parks along the State’s coast.
The book, Beyond the Beach: Exploring NSW’s underwater treasures, highlights the benefits of marine sanctuaries, which allow fish and other marine life to recover and rebuild their stocks free from the pressures of sustained fishing. The report combines stunning photographs, compelling stories, and facts and figures showcasing the state’s marine natural heritage.
The report also focuses on the importance of marine parks and sanctuaries to tourism. Diving and whale watching tourism, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the NSW economy, depend on a healthy marine environment to continue to thrive.
The NSW Government’s most recent poll found 85 percent of NSW residents supported protecting some areas of the marine environment, even if it means recreational and commercial fishing is excluded. Despite this, the NSW Government has taken the unprecedented step of allowing line fishing in critical marine sanctuaries, which cover less than 7 per cent of NSW waters. The government is expected to decide soon whether this move will become permanent.
“Allowing fishing in marine sanctuaries is not in the long-term interests of anglers or the wider community, which wants our unique marine life protected. It appears that NSW is weakening marine protections at a time when the rest of Australia is increasing them. We urge the state government to demonstrate its commitment to marine conservation by reinstating the modest protections that existed previously”, said Clean up Australia Chairman and founder, former Australian of the Year Ian Kiernan AO who has written the foreword to Beyond the Beach.
“It takes time for the benefits of marine parks and sanctuaries to kick in, but when they do it’s a bonanza for regional economies and a foundation for sustainable fishing,” Mr Kiernan concluded.
- NSW marine parks are multiple-use areas allowing for a range of activities, including recreational fishing, commercial fishing, boating, diving, snorkelling and swimming.
- Permitted activities are determined by zoning arrangements developed through community consultation.
- NSW has six marine parks: Cape Byron, Solitary Islands, Port Stephens-Great Lakes, Jervis Bay, Batemans, and Lord Howe.
Marine sanctuary zones
- Marine sanctuary zones are like national parks on land.
- They are specific areas within marine parks that provide high-level protection for marine life and an opportunity for people to experience unspoilt nature.
- Marine sanctuaries are free of all forms of extraction, including fishing and mining.
- Marine sanctuaries cover only 7% of NSW waters and about 4% of our coastline.
Australia has a coastal lifestyle and marine environment that we’re proud of. With the third largest marine territory and more marine plants and animals than any country, naturally we’ve taken some extraordinary steps over the years to look after it.
None more so than in 2012 when, after fifteen years of scientific investigation and public consultation, Australia declared about one third of our Commonwealth waters as Marine Parks (fishing and oil & gas exploration permitted) and just over 10% as Marine National Parks (or marine sanctuaries in which nature is fully protected).
Among many other special places, protection was afforded to some of the most important areas for southern right and blue whales in Australia’s South West; the Coral Sea – a globally significant refuge for our ocean giants such as marlin, barracuda and sharks; spawning grounds for unique species of fish around Australia; and humpback whale nurseries along the Kimberley’s pristine Buccaneer Archipelago.
This was an historic decision which created the world’s largest network of marine parks and sanctuaries and offered a much brighter future for Australia’s marine life. It was a remarkable step only made possible through the action of successive governments, starting with the Liberal Howard government in the 1990s. At the time it was declared last year, polling revealed the new national network to be the most popular announcement for that term of government.
Given the popularity and the bipartisan nature of political support for marine parks to-date, it was somewhat surprising to some that during his election campaign opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced that if elected as Prime Minister he would, among other measures, suspend and review Australia’s new marine parks.
The approach the Abbott Government intends to take can be summarized as follows:
What Tony Abbott says he will do:
1. Suspend marine park management plans.
These are the plans outlining not just how parks are managed, but also the size and location of the all-important, fully-protected marine sanctuaries that are zoned within the parks. We are yet to fully understand what impact this will have, but it appears likely that no ‘suspension’ of management plans is possible without being approved by both houses of parliament. Labor and the Greens hold a majority in the Senate until July 2014. This means that the plans should stay in place until at least then, after which the new, recently elected mix of Senators can vote to change the plans.
2. Establish a scientific panel to review the plans and park boundaries.
Once again, detail on the approach here is short, but if previous independent scientific reviews of the national marine network are anything to go by, this panel should make recommendations for a larger network, not a smaller one. However if the panel is stacked with industry-friendly fisheries scientists rather than independent ecologists, the outcome could be a dramatic step backwards.
3. Consult with stakeholders and redraw park boundaries.
The Abbott Government has outlined that it will establish five panels of stakeholders around Australia to reconsider the location and size of marine parks and sanctuaries. Once again, much of what comes out of these panels will depend on who’s on them, and the representatives chosen will be heavily influenced by the volume of the voices coming from their sectors or communities.
4. Make any future Parks subject to Fisheries Minister approval.
For any Marine Parks to be declared in future, the Environment Minister will have to ask the permission of the Fisheries Minister, who in turn will inevitably put recreational and commercial fishing before conservation. This would make sensible, conservation-based marine protected areas harder to bring to reality.
5. Give $1m to recreational and commercial fishing bodies.
Well, enough said about this one.
You can read more about Mr Abbott’s statements and read the full policy document here.
This apparent departure from the Liberal Party’s previous position on marine protection (for example, it was the Howard Government which protected many ocean icons including the Great Barrier Reef) appears to be driven largely by more extreme elements, particularly in its Coalition partner, the National Party.
However with many Liberal Party MPs still in support of marine protection, and the overwhelming majority of Australian’s in favour of marine sanctuaries, we have every chance to maintain the momentum for our marine life.
While the policy announced before the election is clearly dressed up to placate particular anti-conservation elements, the reality is that this Government’s new policy is wide open to interpretation. As we have seen many times before in the campaign to Save Our Marine Life, by taking action and simply letting our MPs know what we think, our efforts can dramatically change the course of events and result in great government decisions. The previous Environment Minister, Tony Burke, has admitted that the national network wouldn’t have been possible without the level of public support he received from you. Through simple online actions, and by working together, there’s nothing to stop us doing this again.
So the answer to the above question “How will Marine Parks fare under an Abbott Government?” is relatively straight-forward – “It’s wide open, and now it’s all up to us”.
What’s the best thing to do right now?
Help rally the troops! Help save the sanctuaries that save our marine life by asking your friends to join the Big Blue Army. The more people we have, the safer our marine life will be.
- Send your friends a message by email.
- Share our graphic with your friends on Facebook or tweet it.
- Collect signatures for the Big Blue Army by downloading our petition.
- Send Tony Abbott a message via his PM’s message page.
Thank you for being part of saving our marine life. With the challenges in front of us we’ll need everyone on board as a marine defender, so thanks for sticking to your guns and standing with us.
During Australia’s Federal election in 2013 Save Our Marine Life was keen to debunk a few myths promoted by more extreme elements of the fringe anti-conservation community. Here’s the low-down on the extensive consultation and science behind the national marine parks network and the minimal extent to which it impacts on recreational fishers.
The Government consultation behind Australia’s Marine Parks
The process to create Australia’s national network of marine parks started under the Howard Government in 1998. It has been an epic consultation process with 6 rounds of public consultation, more than 250 meetings and around 750,000 submissions made during the public consultation process which started in 2011 and ended in 2013. Read more here.
The science behind Australia’s Marine Parks
The marine science community is in no doubt: marine sanctuaries (national parks in the sea) have very significant benefits for conservation, tourism, and the long term sustainability of the commercial fishing industry and recreational fishing.
For further explanation regarding the science relating to Australia’s national network of marine reserves we recommend reading more from Professor Nic Bax and Ian Cresswell, both from Australia’s foremost Science Agency, CSIRO who say:
“The science behind the Commonwealth Marine Reserves network, and marine bioregional planning in general, has been consistently and independently provided to Australian governments for at least 10 years. Claims that the CMR network is not based on science are either incorrect or misdirected.”
Read their whole article here.
To what extent is recreational fishing affected by Australia’s new marine parks?
Being in Commonwealth waters, these Marine Parks are at least 5 kilometres offshore and therefore don’t impact whatsoever on 90% of fishers. Additionally recreational fishing remains unaffected in 96% of the waters in the first 100 kilometres from shore.
You can download the Government map of areas affected by new marine parks here.
Ian Kiernan AO, Chairman of Clean Up Australia, has also put together an excellent web site and video on the issue here.
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.
» In the Media
- South Coast Register: Warning on weakening marine park rules December 4, 2013
- Bay Post: Fishing amnesty in sanctuary zones continues November 29, 2013
- Manly Daily: Make waves in Manly to protect marine life November 29, 2013
- Narooma News: New vision for NSW marine parks, conservationists worried November 27, 2013
- Northern Star: Economist: Keep NSW marine parks for at least 15 years November 26, 2013
- Coffs Coast Advocate: Don’t fish marine parks: report has found November 26, 2013
- APO: Marine protection dividend November 26, 2013
- 9 News: Report warns of fishing in NSW sanctuaries November 25, 2013