On June 14th, 2012 the Australian government took a step that puts all other nations, especially Canada, to shame. Expanding on their already accomplished marine reserves network, the government announced that it will be creating the world’s largest marine protected areas network, upping the number of marine reserves from 27 to 60!
Australia will now have about 40% of it’s oceans protected. That is insanely amazing. Spatially put, this new joining marine protected area (again, largest in the world) will cover 1.3 million square kilometres. This brings the total area of Australia’s Commonwealth marine reserves to a whopping 3.1 million square kilometres. That’s 3x larger than British Columbia, 4x larger than Texas, and over 12x larger than the UK!!
Environment Minister Tony Burke explained in a media release that “over the past 12 months, the Government has consulted with marine and tourism business representatives, environmental groups and members of the public through 250 meetings across the country.”
Much of Australia’s key habitats and ecosystems, areas important to sea turtles and top predators, will be protected. All different groups of people have been involved in the process of creating this marine reserve and it’s so nice to see everyone come to an agreement that benefits the oceans so much. If only Harper could get a talking to by Gillard….
As amazing as this news is for Aussies, to me it reiterates just how pitiful Canada’s marine reserves network is. We have the largest coast line in the world but yet only 0.8% of our oceans are protected, and instead of making further progress on this issue our government would rather fill up the coastline with tankers. It’s shameful and quite frustrating that ocean conservation isn’t a higher priority for a government that, like Australia, is progressive in so many other ways.
Hopefully Australia’s announcement will generate pressure for more nations to create larger marine reserves. The Rio+20 conference is just a day away, and one of the key topics is ‘oceans’, so fingers crossed this issue of protected areas is exposed and some policies are made!
I’ll be listening in on that, and probably be tweeting about it (@SeaingBlue) so follow and let’s discuss!