Australia’s protected areas have grown and grown. But at the same time, ecosystems are falling apart. How can that be?
Traditional ecological and cultural wisdom was embraced and valued, enhancing Western scientific knowledge of a beautiful, fragile marine area.
Plectropomus leopardus from the Whitsundays.
David Williamson/James Cook University
Strictly enforced no-take marine areas benefit everyone, from the fish to fishers.
Marine parks are good for fish - especially if they’re in the right areas.
With strategic planning, the marine protected area network could be a third smaller, cost half as much, and still meet the international target of protecting 10% of every ecosystem.
Recreational fishers adjacent to an established marine park in NSW.
The overwhelming majority of recreational fishers support no-fishing marine sanctuaries.
Blacktip reef sharks are one of the most common species on the Great Barrier Reef.
Banning fishing in no-take marine reserves on the Great Barrier Reef does not protect sharks as well as received wisdom would tell you.
Teenager Alex Weber and friends collected nearly 40,000 golf balls hit into the ocean from a handful of California golf courses.
Snorkeling off the California coast, a high school student found heaps of golf balls on the ocean floor. With a marine scientist, she showed that golf courses were producing tons of plastic pollution.
Beginning on Saturday, West Australia’s short, intense abalone season will be open for a total of four hours.
Sydney’s iconic beaches are not yet part of a marine park.
The New South Wales government has turned its back on plans to create sanctuary zones covering 2.4% of waters around Sydney, despite evidence that these ‘no-take’ areas are crucial for protecting fish.
Predatory fish are among the most vulnerable species to human pressures.
The world has some 500 million square kilometres of ocean. But just 55 million square kilometres remain untouched by intensive human activities such as fishing.
Australia was thought to have some of the most sustainable fisheries in the world, but a recent count has found that fish numbers have plummeted by a third.
An Antarctic icebreaker sails past a penguin. But conservationists are still waiting for their own breakthrough.
John B. Weller
Australia is among nations calling for a 1 million square km marine park off East Antarctica. But Russia and China remain opposed, and a recent summit yet again failed to seal the deal.
Would you pay more if you thought it would help?
Is Australia undervaluing its most valuable natural asset by only charging $6.50 a day to visit the Great Barrier Reef? And would it help if tourists were asked to pay more?
Ern McQuillan, Tuna Fishing at Eden, New South Wales, 1960.
National Library of Australia
The history of fisheries exploitation in Australia reveals a staggering natural bounty, which has been alarmingly fragile without proper management.
The science says that no-take zones offer the best protection for marine life.
AAP Image/Environs Kimberley
Australia’s reputation as a global leader in marine conservation is being put at risk by plans to strip back sanctuary areas within marine parks, say scientists from around the globe.
Orca family group at the Bremer Canyon off WA’s south coast.
The government aims to dramatically reduce the areas offered full protection and expand zones where fishing is allowed, while also claiming that this will still deliver good conservation.
Next year the Ross Sea will be home to the world’s largest marine reserve.
Andrew Mandemaker/Wikimedia Commons
After years of stalled negotiations, China has ended its opposition to the world’s largest marine park off Antarctica - part of a wider trend towards increased Chinese involvement in global governance.
Marlin are one of the prized fish in Australia’s oceans.
Marlin image from www.shutterstock.com
Australia’s oceans would be less protected under recent recommendations.
Fishing is a vital part of Australia’s coastal towns.
Many of the iconic coastal villages of Australia have a close association with professional fishing.
A booby family on a sandy cay in the Coral Sea.
The marine reserves review has recommended major changes to the Coral Sea, but not for the better.