Here, we comment on the New South Wales Government’s decision to abandon sanctuary zones in the proposed Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion. We briefly note our objections to the NSW Fisheries Minister’s decision to remove no-take zones from the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion and we urge the NSW Government to reconsider and return to a process that provides adequate protection for the marine communities of NSW.
Here, we comment on the Australian Marine Parks Network (AMPN) Draft Management Plans released on 21 July 2017. We briefly note our objections to the draft plan for Australia’s Commonwealth marine estate, then in more detail describe our concerns that relate to the draft plan for the Coral Sea.
The past three years have seen the worst mass coral bleaching in history occurring across the globe. For the first time we have seen back-to-back bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef resulting in the loss of more than half of shallow-water corals. The devastating damage from climate change is irrefutable, and will be exacerbated if the proposed mines in the Galilee Basin go ahead; they alone would become the world’s biggest and most harmful sources of atmospheric pollution. These impacts
directly threaten Australia’s responsibilities for stewardship of the Great Barrier Reef under the
World Heritage Convention.
It is not too late to step up action to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement (COP21), but we must act now.
The Governance arrangements for the GBRMPA were initially established through the Great Barrier Reef Marine
Park Act 1975, and reviewed in 2006.
Since this time, the uses of, and threats to, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have changed considerably.
These changes highlight the need for the accompanying changes in governance of the GBRMPA to ensure that the main object of the Act: ‘the long term protection and conservation of the environment,
biodiversity and heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef Region’ is achieved.
Positive, practical changes to current reef policies could help reverse the decline in the health of Australia’s coral reefs and increase the viability of all the industries associated with reefs.
Here, we highlight ways to build resilience in Australia’s coral reefs to protect from harmful human impacts. We focus on:
- Climate Change,
- Port development,
- Water quality.
- Crown-of Thorns,
- Marine debris pollution,
- Compliance & Management,
- Beach erosion,
- Anthropogenic noise
The current Federal Government Review of the Commonwealth Marine Reserve offers the ideal opportunity to redress these deficiencies in the management plans and thus improve the protection of Australia’s marine environment and standing as a world leader in marine conservation. It is heartening to see the proposed addition of three new MNPZ adjacent to the GBRMP, however the proposed reduction and fragmentation of the existing MNPZ’s in the Coral Sea and the opening of Rowley Shoals to commercial fishing is disappointing, represents a major backward step, and has no scientific grounding.
The Australian Coral Reef Society (ACRS) applaud the Queensland Government’s effort to refocus outdated management practices and achieve long-term sustainability and resilient fisheries stocks, as well as healthy ecosystems that all Australians can enjoy now and into the future. We highlight four areas of the reform that we feel are important to fisheries and coral reefs in Queensland.
The ACRS strongly supports the following proposed actions:
• A commitment to more ambitious targets to reduce Queensland’s greenhouse gas emissions.
• A transition to a clean-energy, low-carbon economy, with the long-term aim of 100% renewable energy by
• To be the second Australian state to sign the ‘Under 2 MOU,’ put forward by the subnational global
climate leadership memorandum of understanding.
• Given the inevitability of future climate-related impacts to the Great Barrier Reef, we support the
innovation and additional funding required for improving water quality. We also urge a complete stop
to port expansions, and a ban on capital and maintenance dredge dumping. Each of these acts will
increase the resilience of the reef to future climatic disturbances.
Furthermore, we propose the following additional actions:
• We emphasise that by extracting and exporting fossil fuels to be burnt elsewhere, Queensland must take
responsibility for climate-inflicted damage to its coral reefs.
Australia is a world leader in the management of marine ecosystems, yet the threats faced by reefs are
growing at an unprecedented rate. Solutions to these problems lie in environmental governance and climate
change mitigation. Below we highlight the primary threats to coral reefs, and the policies proposed to
address them by the two major parties running in the Australian 2016 election.
Declining water quality has already led to decreased coral diversity and coverage on coastal reefs of the GBR. Importantly, mangroves have the ability to reduce impacts
of water quality. Australia has the 2nd largest area of mangroves in the world. Below, we have highlighted the benefits of mangroves, and recommend immediate action to
protect and restore mangrove forests along the Queensland coast.