The Federal Government’s release of draft marine reserves in the Commonwealth waters far off the NSW coast is seen as a missed opportunity to establish much-needed protection for marine life by leading environment groups.
”We are calling for the establishment of a network of marine sanctuaries that meet international scientific benchmarks for protection. Unfortunately, this was not achieved in the current draft.” said Nicola Bowskill, from The Wilderness Society.
“The temperate oceans of the east are world class and deserving of world class protection. They are home to rare and threatened species including southern right and humpback whales, as well as loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles and incredible underwater seascapes including towering underwater mountains and deep canyons.” continued Ms Bowskill.
The government’s proposal would step up protection for waters around Lord Howe and Norfolk Island - areas of incredible diversity that include the world’s southernmost coral reefs. However it fails to protect the offshore wildlife in other important areas from oil and gas exploration and damaging fishing techniques.
"The best available science shows that marine sanctuaries are the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to safeguarding the future of marine life and fish stocks “said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International.
"Environment groups are committed to working with other stakeholder groups including tourism and recreational and commercial fishers in the coming three months submission period to work towards outcomes that benefit all sectors as well as ocean life,” said Daisy Barham of the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
“The Australian lifestyle relies on the good health of our oceans and marine reserves are a critical tool to restoring and maintaining that health. If not strengthened, the current plan would miss a major opportunity to improve ocean health and build resilience in the face of climate change and other threats,” said Pepe Clarke of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
The coalition includes The Wilderness Society, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Australian Marine Conservation Society, and Humane Society International.