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Analysis and Comment (27)

Coral reef ecosystem off Palmyra Atoll part of newly expanded Marine National Monument. Jim Maragos/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Pacific Remote Islands protection not just a drop in the ocean

This fall, President Obama signed a proclamation that created the biggest marine reserve in the world. By extending the protective boundaries around Wake Island, Jarvis Island and Johnston Atoll from 50…
Australia’s Commonwealth marine parks were designed to protect marine life, including important foraging areas for sea birds.

Marine park review looks set to repeat past mistakes

In June 2012 the Labor government announced the “world’s largest” system of marine parks, adding 2.3 million square kilometres and taking the overall size of Australia’s Commonwealth marine reserves to…
Shark Bay is one of Australia’s 19 World Heritage Areas, home to dolphins, dugongs, and sharks. Matthew Fraser

Climate change threatens Western Australia’s iconic Shark Bay

In the summer of 2010-2011 Western Australia experienced an unprecedented heatwave — but not on land. Between December 2010 and April 2011, sea temperatures off the WA coast reached 3C above average, and…
Floodwater plumes, like this one in Moreton Bay, do less damage to reefs that are in marine reserves. Healthy Waterways/supplied

Marine reserves saved coral reefs from Queensland floods

Marine reserves are a hot topic in Australia, with federal and state governments debating whether to allow recreational fishers to take fish from within their boundaries. But new research demonstrates…
Already operating as a coal port, the disposal of dredge material from expanding Abbot Point is now the subject of a legal challenge. GBRMPA

Let’s dump Great Barrier Reef dredging myths: authority chief

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s recent decision to allow 3 million cubic metres of dredge material to be disposed of 25 kilometres off Abbot Point in north Queensland has attracted passionate…
While we don’t know much about oceans off north west Australia, we know they’re important. Australian Institute of Marine Science

Marine reserves: finding the balance with oil and gas

How do we get the most out of our marine reserves? The government is in the process of reviewing Australia’s network of marine protected areas. The review focuses on zones that exclude recreational fishers…
Going fishing? 96% of Australia’s coastline is still open to recreational fishers. Flickr/deswalsh

Paper parks or a world-class system of ocean protection?

The federal government’s recent announcement “reproclaiming” the new Commonwealth Marine Reserves overturns previous plans to protect Australia’s marine biodiversity, and review the management of Australia’s…
Maria Island’s protected waters have given us insight into how species respond to warmer temperatures. Paul Benjamin

Marine reserves help fish resist climate change invaders

Southeast Australia is an ocean warming “hotspot” – a region where temperature at the ocean’s surface is increasing more rapidly than elsewhere. That means this part of Australia is like an outdoor laboratory…
By consulting more with fishers, governments can build support for conservation science. Flickr/Ben Christian Photos

Marine parks won’t work unless fishers are on side

Last year the current government unveiled plans for the world’s largest network of marine parks around Australia’s coast. Now the Coalition has pledged to put a pause on the plan should it form government…
Chagos: more marine life than practically anywhere else, and Captain Bird’s Eye is getting his hands on none of it. Anne Sheppard/Chagos Trust

The Chagos Islands are unique and worth protecting

The Chagos Islands marine protected area is the largest of its kind in the world, encircling the dozens of tiny islands of the Chagos archipelago that lie in thousands of miles of Indian Ocean between…
With only 4% of no-take zones within 100km of shore, new marine parks will leave plenty of places to take a tinny fishing. Rob and Stephanie Levy

Opposition keen to stop marine parks, but will fishers benefit?

Last night the Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network survived a vote in the House of Representatives. The Opposition had hoped to disallow the motions setting up the network, but were narrowly defeated…
Only 7% of the NSW coast is currently protected from fishing: it’s about to be 0%. Éamonn Lawlor

Recreational fishing in marine parks: you can’t be serious!

The NSW Government’s announcement this week allowing beach fishing in sanctuary (no-take) zones of marine parks flies in the face of sensible conservation of precious marine biodiversity. It is a warning…
Australia’s marine parks are all show, no substance, so why are conservation groups so supportive? AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Australia’s new marine protected areas: why they won’t work

On land and in the sea, we’re losing sight of what nature conservation is about. We’ve become dangerously focused on protected areas, but rarely consider what they’re supposed to achieve. One result is…
Failing to reach a decision on protecting Antarctic waters doesn’t mean the process is over. Dean Lewins/AAP

Don’t write off Antarctic marine protected areas

The annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) wound up in Hobart on Thursday last week without declaring a system of marine protected areas (MPAs…
Competing proposals for the Ross Sea could give CCAMLR an excuse to shelve protected areas. Jacques Descloitres/NASA

Conserving Antarctica: which protected area will it be?

This week delegates from around the globe are gathered in Hobart for the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR, pronounced “camel-ar” to those…
New marine parks at both Commonwealth and state level pose many questions for users of the marine environment in Western Australia. AAP/Splash Communications

Our new marine parks: the unanswered questions

While surfing recently in WA’s newly established Ngari Capes Marine Park, one of us was asked several questions by other surfers about the new marine protected areas. These and other questions have been…
Sanctuary: marine parks can create new ways to prevent illegal fishing. Mia Hoogenboom, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University

Marine parks could help cut down on illegal fishing

Environment Minister Tony Burke announced the final proposed Commonwealth marine protected area (MPA) network last month. The network would be the largest in the world, covering more than a third of Commonwealth…
The new marine reserves will take in just a fraction of Australia’s massive ocean resources. Carlos Duarte

Marine parks a buffer for marine species and the fishing industry

Australia’s brand-new marine park proposal has great historic precedent. For hundreds of years, ocean managers have found that reducing fishing can repair fish stocks and benefit not just ocean species…
Reducing fishing in the Coral Sea could hugely benefit species. It’s up to the government to make sure it benefits fishers too. Sam Ilic

A solid marine parks compensation package will be good for fish and fishers

Coral Sea protection is eminently doable - but the question is, will Australia effectively manage the process of creating the largest network of marine protected areas in world? The creation of the largest…
Hard numbers: less than 1% of the world’s oceans are protected but marine scientists think 20% should be off-limits to fishing. AAP/Lloyd Jones

Marine parks: cause for optimism, but devilish details

As a marine scientist, I welcome Senator Burke’s brave decision today to roll out Australia’s marine park system. This puts us on a par with other leading nations like the US and UK who have established…
The announcement of a marine park network is unlikely to calm the worries of Great Barrier Reef conservation groups. AAP/Greenpeace

New marine reserves won’t address UNESCO’s Reef concerns

Today’s announcement of a network of marine parks for Australia is a big step forward in marine conservation. However, major threats to one iconic marine area, the Great Barrier Reef, are land-based…
Networks of nature: a potato cod with striped cleaner wrasse at Osprey Reef, an area in the expanded marine reservations announced today. Flickr/richard ling

Big splash: welcome back to top-shelf marine conservation

Today’s announcement of a national network of marine parks is really a memorable day for Australian nature conservation. The political rhetoric and self-congratulation associated with major events is often…
The Coral Sea could soon become the world’s largest marine park. babasteve

Does the Coral Sea marine park proposal provide enough protection?

The release of the Coral Sea Commonwealth marine reserve proposal is a milestone achievement in marine protection. The area proposed to be covered is larger than that of many small European nations. In…

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