John (bird whisperer)
Australia sets aside 40 percent of its waters for protection -
Australia sets aside 40 percent of its waters for protection
"In an announcement to coincide with the beginnings of the UN's Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, Australia has announced ambitious plans to protect 3.1 million square kilometers (1.19 million square miles) of its ocean, including the Coral Sea. If enacted, the proposition will increase Australia's marine protected areas from 27 to 60, covering about 40 percent of Australia's waters. "This is the largest network of marine reserves anywhere in the world," Environment Minister Tony Burke said. "What we've done is effectively create a national parks estate in the ocean. But, I think the jewel in the crown in the whole thing would have to be the Coral Sea. And, this is the area that sort of extends out from the Great Barrier Reef marine park right to the edge of Commonwealth waters." The new reserves will not mean full protection every where, but includes tougher regulations on fisheries as well as bans on oil and gas exploitation. The government said it is developing compensation packages for fishermen that will likely total around a $100 million, but the fisheries industry is not happy about the announcement. "The real issue here today is that that package should have been announced with the boundaries themselves," Brian Jeffriess, of the Commonwealth Fisheries Association, told ABC. He warned that the new restrictions could devastate fishermen and coastal communities. Others have said the restriction will raise the local price of seafood. The government has said there will be a 60-day consultation period before any parks are gazetted. Despite fishing industry concerns, recent research shows that establishing marine protected areas could actually help fisheries by increasing overall abundance of target fish, many of which have long been overfished." - John (bird whisperer) from Bookmarklet