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The ongoing work for the protection of the iconic Coral Sea

photo courtesy of Xanthe Rivett

The national network of marine reserves recognises the value of our oceans as the common heritage of all Australians and announces Australia as a world’s leader in marine conservation.

During the recent public consultation period on the final zoning over 83,000 people entered submissions in favour of the marine reserve network

However, the process for the effective establishment and management of the national marine reserves network, including the proposed Coral Sea Marine Reserve, continues.

The next step, which we are expecting to be very soon, is the ‘proclamation’ of the marine reserves that will confirm the reserves boundaries and zoning and make them official – not just a plan. After the proclamation we will enter in what it is likely to be the most crucial phase of the process: the development of the management plan.

The management plan will define all the activities that will be allowed within the reserve and how they must be carried on.

Coral Sea Beauty © Lucy Trippett

By Australian law, management plans are prepared by the Director of National Parks, with public input, and approved by the federal Minister for the Environment following this process:

  1. The Director of National Parks publishes a notice inviting public comment for a period of 30 days on the proposal to prepare a draft management plan and then he prepares the draft.
  2. The draft management plan is released for public comment for a period of 30 days
  3. The Director of National Parks provides the Minister for the Environment with the second draft management plan which takes into account the public comments on the draft plan.
  4. The Minister considers the draft plan and, if satisfied, approves the management plan.
  5. The plan is then tabled in both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament and comes into force after 15 Parliamentary sitting days, provided it has not been disallowed.

This means that, following the proclamation, there will be two more rounds of public consultation for the management plans when it will be fundamental that we provide our input to ensure that the iconic Coral Sea is effectively protected.

The ocean sustains all life on earth and it is fundamental to act decisively to protect key areas of our unique marine environment. The Coral Sea truly is the jewel in the crown of the new national system of marine reserves and we now urge the Minister for the Environment to do all he can to protect this special place into the future by developing a comprehensive and effective management plan. So stay tuned and celebrate with us the proclamation but remember that the Coral Sea needs your input more than ever!