toggle menu
Barracudas swimming © Ocean Ark Alliance

© Ocean Ark Alliance


Life began in our oceans and these marine wonderlands remain the cornerstone of life on Earth. They feed more than one billion people, deliver more than half the oxygen we breathe, support countless livelihoods and regulate the world's climate.


They are fundamental to our everyday lives. It is within our oceans that we find some of the most diverse life on Earth – from the largest animal that has ever lived to the smallest bacteria. And that's just those species that have been identified. Oceanographers believe we know less about our oceans than we do the moon!


Our island continent borders three mighty oceans – the Pacific, Indian and Southern oceans – and includes the world's third largest marine territory. Some 85% of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast – it’s part of who we are – but we so often take our oceans for granted. Keeping our marine environments healthy protects their astounding biodiversity.


As WWF-Australia is demonstrating, it also supports the many people who depend upon their riches. Just as life began in our oceans, now, more than ever, the protection of marine environments is imperative to sustain life on Earth.


WWF Australia's oceans program reflects the diversity of our marine environment. Our marine conservation work focuses on some of the most spectacular places on Earth, from idyllic tropics to frozen glaciers, and all the incredible wildlife that live there.

Why it matters

Australia's oceans contain some of the richest, most diverse life on Earth, which is why marine conservation in these areas has never been so important. 




    Overfishing continues because our precious marine resources are poorly managed.


    Global warming is harming our oceans and causing coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.


    Marine pollution is threatening some of our most fragile habitats and endangered species.


    Kilometres of nets trawling our oceans are deadly.


    Australia's oceans face myriad threats, which is why the protection of our marine environment is so important. These threats include global warming, overfishing, industrial development and pollution. If we cannot halt and reverse the unsustainable demands on our oceans, then our long-term well-being and prosperity is also threatened. As marine ecosystems decline, meeting the needs of a growing human population will become an even greater challenge.

    In 2015, WWF published the Living Blue Planet Report – a global analysis of over 5,000 marine populations and more than 1,200 mammal, bird, reptile and fish species. The report showed that populations had halved in just 40 years, a frightening indication that the fabric of life on Earth is unravelling.

    On the Great Barrier Reef, farm pollution run-off is causing outbreaks of coral-eating crown of thorns starfish, which is making the Reef more susceptible to coral bleaching of the kind that occurred in early 2016.

    In the Kimberley, areas never before protected are finally being considered for marine parks, but zonings and boundaries are questionable.

    The Coral Triangle and its people are at risk from overfishing and unsustainable resource use, and in Antarctica, our delay in tackling dangerous climate change is threatening this wilderness stronghold.


    When we look at the fish species most directly tied to human well-being – The fish that constitute up to 60% of protein intake in coastal countries, supporting millions of small-scale Fishers as well as a global multi-billion dollar industry - WE SEE POPULATIONS IN A NOSEDIVE. THE HABITATS THEY DEPEND ON, SUCH AS CORAL REEFS, MANGROVES AND SEAGRASSES, ARE EQUALLY THREATENED.

    Marco Lambertini

    WWF Living Blue Planet Report

    Recommended reading

    A star fish in the great barrier reef © WWF / James Morgan


    Great Barrier Reef

    WWF-Australia works on the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the largest coral reef ecosystems.

    Read more