Marine reserves leave legacy for future generations

Soldier fish | Image WA Tourism

Nudibranch |  Image Antony King

It’s very exciting and a great honour that Parks Australia will now have the responsibility of managing the world’s largest network of marine protected areas.

I am delighted to welcome the talented team that has worked so hard bringing  Australia’s network of marine reserves into being.  They’ve put in an amazing effort - running  two exhaustive consultative processes to prepare and finalise draft management plans and have them tabled in Parliament this week.

The management plans cover the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve, and the five regional marine reserve networks (South-east, South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East).

The last round of public consultation on the marine reserve networks focused on the draft management plans.  In 30 days over 65,000 submissions were received.  Around 205 of these were very thorough and included many constructive comments and suggestions and as a result the final plans are much improved.

The plans determine how the reserves will be managed for the next ten years. They also establish an innovative way to ensure red tape will be kept to a minimum for users.

The reserves are designed to minimise the socio-economic impact on recreational and commercial fishers but there will be some impacts. The management plans create a more certain environment for future planning through zoning, and specification of the activities that will or may be allowed in the marine reserves.

The management plan for the south-east reserve network will come into effect on 1 July this year, with the remainder coming into effect in July 2014.

We will be working with the valuable help and support of Australian Government departments and agencies, State and Territory Governments, Indigenous communities, marine reserve users, local communities and other Australians who are passionate about the extraordinary natural world in the oceans that surround our island continent.

Together we can leave a tremendous legacy for future generations.

Peter Cochrane, Director of National Parks