Dear Director of National Parks,
CC: Mr Josh Frydenberg - for the Environment & Energy; Mr Tony Burke - Shadow Minister for Environment & Water
1. I am deeply concerned about cutbacks to National Park zone (IUCN II/ ‘sanctuary’) protection in Australia’s marine parks network;
2. The network should be science-based, and therefore deliver adequately sized and located National Park zones (IUCN category II/ ‘sanctuaries’) on both the continental shelf and in deeper waters;
3. I support the draft management plans where the National Park zones have not changed from what was declared in 2012, or where there are new and/or increased National Park zones, ie:
- the new National Park zone transect and National Park zone areas over the canyon in the Bremer Marine Park;
- the new National Park zone transect over the Swan Canyon in the SW Corner Marine Park;
- the increased National Park zone area in the Two Rocks Marine Park;
- and the new National Park zone area at Oceanic Shoals.
4. I reject the draft management plans where:
- National Park zone areas are made smaller (eg: the Coral Sea Marine Park, Cape York West Marine Park, Gascoyne Marine Park, Argo Rowley Terrace Marine Park, the SW Corner Marine Park (Diamantina Fracture Zone section), Lord Howe Marine Park, Dampier Marine Park and Twilight Marine Park);
- or removed altogether (ie: the Wessels Marine Park, Geographe Bay Marine Park, the Peaceful Bay section of the SW Corner Marine Park);
- or where National Park zone areas have been moved to areas of far less ecological importance (eg: the Perth Canyon Marine Park, the Gulf of Carpentaria Marine Park);
- or where the Government has ignored the Review’s recommendations for additional National Park zone areas (eg: in the Norfolk Island Marine Park).
5. I am shocked that the Turnbull Government has ignored the findings of its own Independent Review, proposing dramatically less National Park zone protection than the Review recommended.
6. I am gravely disappointed that the government has failed to take into account the submissions coming out of last year’s first round of consultation – where 54,000 people provided comment, the vast majority of which called for a significant increase in marine National Park zones, not less. This diminishes my confidence in government and in particular in Parks Australia.
7. I reject the claims by government that Habitat Protection (HPZs/yellow zones) are equal to National Park zone (IUCN category II) zones. Protecting the sea floor provides only partial protection. Scientific evidence shows that partial protection does not generate biodiversity benefits comparable to sanctuaries. HPZs must not replace sanctuary zones. I am disappointed that the opportunity for marine tourism has been largely ignored by the government, with National Park zone protection reduced at one of Australia’s premier reefs and tourism destinations – Osprey Reef – and at other important tourism assets including Flinders and Holmes Reefs in the Coral Sea, and at Rowley Shoals in the NW marine region.
8. I am deeply shocked that only 7 of the Coral Sea’s 37 reefs are fully protected and that deep cuts have been made to the Coral Sea’s large National Park zone – Australia’s largest fully protected area, and the only one of a size and nature that is able to protect both the giants of the sea and a series of unique and important deep water reefs. This is a terrible lost opportunity for the environment, for marine tourism and for the long-term sustainability of Australia’s fishing.
9. I am very shocked that the government has gone against its own advice and allowed destructive fishing practices like trawling, gillnetting and longlining in 38 of 44 marine parks.
10. I urge the government to make the following changes to the draft management plans:
a) That no marine National Park zone areas declared in 2012 are removed or reduced;
b) That new marine National Park zones are declared:
In the northern section of the Kimberley Marine Park;
at west Holmes and South Flinders Reefs in the Coral Sea;
in the Norfolk Island Marine Park as recommended in the Review;
adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as recommended in the Review;
that every marine park under Review be afforded an adequately sized and located National Park zone (currently 16 of the 44 have none) and;
that all marine parks on the completion of their management plans should be fully protected from oil and gas mining as has been achieved in the Great Barrier Reef MP and the Coral Sea MP.
11. And finally, I impress upon Parks Australia to recognise that this submission is a submission with equal importance as others made in any other format. That just because it is made online, facilitated by community groups, does not diminish its importance. I ask that you act on this and all other submissions equally.
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