WWF-Australia said a $100 million ocean research initiative, announced today by Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest, would boost conservation of the world’s oceans.
The initiative will be managed by Mr Forrest’s philanthropic group the Minderoo Foundation.
In making the announcement, Mr Forrest criticised the Federal Government’s proposed downgrading of Australia’s marine parks saying the plans expose previously protected waters to aggressive and unsustainable industrial fishing.
WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said the Minderoo Ocean Research (MOR) initiative will improve understanding of global fishing patterns, marine plastic pollution, the migration of sea life through the Indian Ocean and will establish a world-class research facility in Exmouth.
“These research projects will help governments and business make more sustainable decisions and boost conservation of the world’s oceans,” Mr O’Gorman said.
John Tanzer, Oceans Leader for WWF-International, also welcomed the funding.
“'This investment comes at a critical time for the world's oceans. The effect of climate change is multiplying the impacts of overfishing and loss of essential marine infrastructure such as mangroves and coral reefs, seriously threatening the security and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.
“There are solutions and hopefully the vision and leadership shown by this commitment will encourage governments and business to ramp up their support for ocean conservation,” Mr Tanzer said.
Mr O’Gorman said it was also significant that Mr Forrest strongly rejected plans to downgrade marine parks.
“Eighty thousand submissions, including 10,000 from recreational fishers, oppose the government’s changes which will soon be voted on in federal parliament,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“If passed it will be the largest downgrading of protected area the world has ever seen.
“More than 35 million hectares, an area almost twice the size of Victoria, will be removed from Australia’s marine sanctuary network.
“The Coral Sea – the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef – is the worst affected area by far with marine sanctuaries reduced by 50%.
“WWF calls on the federal government to listen to the concerns of tens of thousands of Australians, including Mr Forrest, and stop the largest removal of marine protections in human history,” Mr O’Gorman said.
David Crisante, National Media Manager WWF Australia.
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