A big opportunity to conserve Australia’s marine natural heritage

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Australia has some of the world’s most amazing marine wonders, and while many of these are to be found on the Great Barrier Reef, most of these wonders are actually in other places in the seas and oceans surrounding our country. Unfortunately, almost all of the attention on our marine natural heritage goes to the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, it’s important, but let’s not forget about protecting the rest of our marine estate. As it happens, Australia’s network of marine protected areas is currently under review so the time is right to make a stand.

Photo of cuttlefish – credit: TBD.

But before we talk about all of Australia, let’s talk about the Great Barrier Reef. Everyone knows about the Great Barrier Reef; indeed UNESCO has it on its list of World Heritage Areas. And everyone wants the Great Barrier Reef to be around for future generations to see. But the Reef is under pressure and showing signs of decline. UNESCO is discussing listing the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” and Australian Governments are spending significant money to sustain its natural values.

Photo of Great Barrier Reef. Photo credit: Catlin Seaview Survey.

The Great Barrier Reef is also important to our discussion here because Australia’s rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef back in 2004 is considered the best example of a systematically planned network of marine protected areas in the world. It delivered positive outcomes for fisheries and biodiversity demonstrating that when it comes to conservation you don’t have to sacrifice the economy to protect natural values.

So the Great Barrier Reef is a good news story but Australia’s marine natural heritage is so much more including, for example, the world’s largest Mediterranean reef system, the Great Southern Reef, and the Kimberley region of Western Australia. —> Read More