What we’ve achieved so far
In the great south-west of Australia, large sanctuaries protect eye-popping underwater mountain ranges and canyons that support an extraordinary range of unique marine life. In fact, up to 90 per cent of marine life in the southwest is found nowhere else. Stretching from Kangaroo Island in South Australia to Geraldton in Western Australia, sanctuaries safeguard two of the only three places in Australia where the rare blue whale comes to feed.
Buffering the Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea is one of the last remaining places on Earth with healthy populations of big fish such as marlin, deepwater sharks, whales and other ocean giants. The new Coral Sea Marine Reserve is almost half the size of Queensland, and includes a huge sanctuary for marine life and one of the largest recreational fishing zones in the world.
Offshore from the rugged beauty of the Kimberley, sanctuaries provide an insurance policy for untouched reefs, a ‘superhighway’ for migrating humpback whales and majestic whale sharks. Sanctuaries offshore from our Top End in the Northern Territory offer hotspots for fish and marine life essential protection from the risks of oil spills.
100,000 of us made this possible and, as Australians, we can be justifiably proud to be world leaders in marine conservation.
There are more iconic areas surrounding the coast that Australians know and love. Marine parks with critical sanctuary areas have now been in place for many years in places such as Moreton Bay near Brisbane, Ningaloo Reef north of Perth, Solitary Islands on the NSW north coast, Jervis Bay south of Sydney and, of course, the world-class network of sanctuaries in the Great Barrier Reef.
All of these protected areas have become part of normal life for local communities and valuable, job-creating businesses and industry have grown up around them. They are great examples of how world-class conservation and world-class recreation can work hand in hand.
A lasting bi-partisan legacy
Our national network of sanctuaries is the result of decades of effort across the political divide in Australia. The process to establish the national network first began when John Howard’s Coalition Government developed the world’s first Oceans Policy in 1998 and went on to declare 22 marine parks around Australia. This built on Australia’s first federal marine parks declared by the Whitlam Labor Government in the 1970s, and the Fraser Liberal Government in the 1980s.
Federal Labor then finalised the world’s largest and first comprehensive network of sanctuaries bringing the total of federal marine parks to 59.
The Greens have been strong advocates, taking action for marine sanctuaries, throughout the process.
This bipartisan commitment to protecting Australia’s oceans is being further built on today. For example:
- Last year the SA Labor Government finalised the nation’s first comprehensive network of state waters marine parks.
- This year, the NSW Liberal Premier Mike Baird publicly committed to expanding the marine sanctuary network in New South Wales.
- And right now the WA Liberal State Government is creating a world class network of marine sanctuaries in the Kimberley.
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