Australia’s network of marine parks could be implemented before the end of the year, but the Federal Government has again been accused of winding back environmental protections.
The final draft plan released for consultation includes a total of 36 per cent of waters off the coast of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory to be protected — a figure the Government says far exceeds the 10 per cent benchmark set by the United Nations.
But Pew Charitable Trust oceans director Michelle Grady said the latest maps, if adopted, would wind back high-level protection zoning — green and yellow — by 40 to 50 per cent, including in the world’s largest marine park in the Coral Sea.
“Given the Coral Sea has over 40 reefs, many of them are unique and very different to the ones in the Great Barrier Reef, we don’t think it’s a very balanced result if only seven of those reefs are protected,” she said.
“That’s not good for tourism and it’s actually not good for fishing either because they depend on healthy environments.
“And the science is very clear on this. You need to have marine parks with enough green zones as the engine room to ensure those conservation and economic outcomes are actually realised.”