The Turnbull government have halved the protection that was provided to Australia’s original network of marine parks set up in 2012. The marine parks were strongly supported by science and by Australians around the country when they were set up.
The loss of protection is unequalled in Australian history. The total area removed from Australia’s marine sanctuary network is over 35 million hectares, an area twice the size of Victoria, equivalent to revoking every second national park on land.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says the slashing of marine sanctuaries by the Turnbull government is a bad day for global marine conservation, as it represents the largest removal of environmental protection on Earth.
‘When it comes to slashing protection for our oceans, the Turnbull government is now the world champion,’ said Darren Kindleysides, CEO of the AMCS.
‘This is not an accolade of which Australians will be proud, particularly when our seas are under so much pressure from climate change, pollution and unsustainable fishing.
‘The cuts to marine icons around Australia are equivalent to removing every second national park on land, including one of our oldest sanctuaries at Lord Howe Island, a massive area off Ningaloo and the Kimberley, and worst hit – the Coral Sea – the cradle to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the last places on Earth where ocean giants still thrive.
‘The Turnbull government has ignored decades of science, the advice of the government’s own independent review, the wishes of local communities, and the voice of hundreds of thousands of Australians who have been consulted over the years when Australia’s marine parks network was in development.
‘When the drafts of these woefully inadequate plans were released last year, a stellar list of 1,470 of the world’s scientists rejected the proposed cuts. More than 80,000 Australians made a formal submission urging more protection, not less. This included over 16,000 recreational fishers around the country.
‘The Turnbull government has now stripped away marine sanctuary protection, exposing our oceans to more industrial fishing, more oil and gas development and more bycatch of protected marine species.
‘Our oceans are under intense pressure and our government won’t see it. Our ocean needs much more protection, not less.
‘But it’s not over. It’s taken two decades of campaigning to get a national network of marine parks and we won’t be giving up until our sanctuaries are restored. The Australian Marine Conservation Society will continue to campaign alongside the tens of thousands of Australians who have spoken up calling for these cuts to be reversed,’ said Kindleysides.