Draft plans released today dramatically reduce protection for Australia's oceans by allowing fishing in 80% of the total area of Australia’s federal marine parks.
A federal government media release described this as a “targeted zoning approach to allow sustainable activities like commercial fishing while protecting key conservation features”.
WWF-Australia Head of Oceans Richard Leck had a different description for the change.
“This is a huge step backwards for marine protection,” Mr Leck said.
“To go from 64% of the total marine park area open to fishing to 80% is a massive increase.
“Australia used to be seen as a global leader in marine conservation. That will no longer be the case if these proposals are implemented,” he said.
Mr Leck said the impact on the Coral Sea was of particular concern.
“The Coral Sea is the Serengeti of the ocean. It’s one of the few places in the world where big species – sharks, tuna and bill fish – still roam in relative abundance.
“We should protect this wondrous place. Instead this iconic area will be open to more fishing pressure and the risk of degradation,” he said.
Mr Leck called for people to let their local federal MP know that destroying marine sanctuaries is unacceptable.
He also called for concerned citizens to make submissions to the government rejecting these proposals.
The draft plans can be accessed here.
WWF-Australia media contact:
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571