By Mariasole Bianco, Marine Campaigner, CAFNEC
It’s impossible not to love the amazing species and landscapes of the Coral Sea.
From thickly forested islands to small sandy cays, beautiful coral reefs and yet to be explored reef slopes and deep sea canyons; the Coral Sea contains 49 different habitats and supports over 300 threatened species. It is one of the last places on Earth where ocean giants – sharks, tuna, marlin – still abound and vibrant coral reefs still pulse with the rhythm and colours of life.
The protection of this unique place, through the creation of the world’s largest marine reserve, is an incredible win for our oceans. This win was made possible by the many people around Australia who sent a clear message that the Coral Sea is too precious to lose. Over the past two years, the government has received more than 680,000 submissions on the reserves and the management plans. The creation of the Coral Sea Marine Reserve is a fantastic result that will provide a safe haven for our marine life and a globally significant ocean legacy for generations to come.
However, to safeguard this legacy and maximise the returns on the Government’s investment, it is fundamental that the right management framework is created, properly funded and applied in the Coral Sea Marine Reserve.
Scientific research on Marine Protected Areas demonstrates that well managed reserves:
• Perform better and generate greater community support;
• Create new jobs;
• Promote regional tourism;
• Ensure compliance and enforcement of new regulations and zoning plans;
• Foster world class scientific research;
• Provide marketing opportunities to our fishing industry;
• Support quality recreational experiences; and
• Have the infrastructure in place to respond to major threats.
We are currently in the last stretch of the campaign, with the Coral Sea Marine Reserve about to be protected by law. In order to do so, the Minister will consider the draft plan and, if satisfied, he will approve the management plan. The plan will then be tabled in both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament and will come into force after 15 Parliamentary sitting days, provided it has not been disallowed.
During this time you can still help to make a difference by writing a short letter to the Editor to your local newspaper such as the Cairns Post showing your love and support for the Coral Sea and the importance of an effective management framework for the reserve.
Australia’s oceans are amongst the most diverse on Earth and it is fundamental to protect key areas of our unique marine environment from the impacts of destructive fishing practices and the damage that oil and gas drilling can have on our spectacular marine life.
Letters to the Editor must be 150 words or fewer and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name, home address or PO Box number and a telephone number (letters that cannot be verified will not be published by the newspaper). If you are stretched for time text messages to the editor are also published, send them to 0428 87 78 (include your name and suburb).