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Marine Parks

Protecting our marine life and way of life

Despite devastating cuts to sanctuary protection, hundreds of thousands of Australians have helped to create Australia’s Marine Parks Network – the largest in the world.

Backed by decades of science, work by all sides of politics and overwhelming community support, this network of 60 large marine parks encircling Australia’s vast continent includes some of our greatest treasures: The Coral Sea, Ningaloo, the Great Australian Bight, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, Kangaroo Island, the Tasmanian Seamounts, the wild surfing waters off Margaret River, and the remote and magnificent tropical and culturally significant waters of the Kimberley and the Top End’s Gulf of Carpentaria.

Together, we also helped to create the Great Kimberley Marine Park, WA’s Ngari Capes Marine Park off Margaret River, South Australia’s whopping network of 19 marine parks and sanctuaries, and the restoration of 20 long-standing marine sanctuaries up and down the New South Wales coast which were under attack.

But our work is far from done. As the threats from industrial fishing, mining and climate change increase, we must continue to be a voice for our marine life and local communities. We look forward to continuing our work to put in place the marine protection around the country that the science says is needed and the Australian public has continually asked for.

Benefits of marine sanctuaries

Highly protected sanctuaries within marine parks protect crucial feeding and breeding areas to help ensure we have fish for the future. They also make coral reefs more resilient to devastating bleaching and cyclones – meaning they are more important than ever before.

And it’s not just Australia’s marine life that benefits …

Sanctuaries are tourism powerhouses, supporting a range of growing industries in regional communities and providing a beacon to international visitors. Long established marine sanctuaries are boosting tourism, fish populations and local businesses right around Australia.

Many of our treasured fishing destinations have been marine parks for years now. Long-standing marine sanctuaries are working hand in hand with world-class recreational fishing in places like Ningaloo Reef, the Solitary Islands, Tasmania’s Maria Island and right along the Queensland coast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Highly protected sanctuaries within marine parks protect crucial feeding and breeding areas to help ensure we have fish for the future. They also make coral reefs more resilient to devastating bleaching and cyclones – meaning they are more important than ever before.

And it’s not just Australia’s marine life that benefits …

Sanctuaries are tourism powerhouses, supporting a range of growing industries in regional communities and providing a beacon to international visitors. Long established marine sanctuaries are boosting tourism, fish populations and local businesses right around Australia.

Many of our treasured fishing destinations have been marine parks for years now. Long-standing marine sanctuaries are working hand in hand with world-class recreational fishing in places like Ningaloo Reef, the Solitary Islands, Tasmania’s Maria Island and right along the Queensland coast.

Leading up to the declaration of the national network of marine parks, more than 750,000 Australians made submissions, showing over 95% support for sanctuaries.

Many thousands of coastal businesses around the country have signed the Business Statement for Sanctuaries, recognising that sanctuaries make sense for regional economies and livelihoods.

World-class conservation is working hand in hand with world-class recreational fishing in places like Ningaloo Reef in WA, at Solitary Islands in NSW, and right along the Queensland coast.

Many of our most revered fishing destinations have been marine parks for years now, and people who fish know that this protection is helping ensure they stay that way. It’s no surprise that every published scientific and government survey of recreational fishers shows a clear majority support sanctuaries once they have been established.

Internationally published and peer-reviewed science from Australia and across the globe strongly supports the protection of marine biodiversity through the creation of highly protected sanctuaries.

Sanctuaries are designed to ensure that the full range of our unique marine life is protected for present and future generations, with a minimum impact on other activities such as fishing and oil and gas exploration.

Once areas are fully protected, science research has consistently shown that the number, size and diversity of marine life greatly increases.

A three-year study by the University of Queensland in 2013 found that sanctuaries made coral reefs six times more resilient to coral bleaching and other disturbances.

Importantly, evidence of ‘flow-on’ benefits into adjacent areas is growing. Increases in size and the numbers of rock lobsters, corals, fishes and reef sharks reaching reproductive stage are now well documented.

The world’s largest study in 2014 found marine parks and sanctuaries have twice as many large fish species, five times more large fish biomass, and 14 times more shark biomass than comparable fished areas.

Fisheries management, together with marine sanctuaries, offers a ‘two tool toolbox’ to the sustainable management of our oceans.

The prime purpose of marine parks is the conservation of species, communities, habitats and ecosystems, as has been well established. This should not be confused with fisheries management, which manages exploitation of fisheries to maximise yield.

The best available research indicates that fisheries management tools are effective in increasing the catch of targeted fish. However, they cannot match the performance of marine sanctuaries in the conservation of the wider marine environment. This is because the focus of most fisheries management is largely on single species and not the wider ecosystem.

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You can help protect our marine life

You can help protect our marine life and way of life. As the threats to our oceans increase, our marine life needs your voice more than ever before.

Stand with the hundreds of thousands of Australians who are working to Save Our Marine Life for future generations.
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We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

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