Marine Reserves and the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef ecosystem on earth and one of the best known marine areas in the world.  The Reef attracts more than two million visitors each year, contributes $5.7 billion to the economy, and supports around 69,000 jobs.

It is a national icon that Australians want to see protected.

The biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef, even according to the Government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, is climate change.  Rapidly warming ocean temperatures present a serious threat to coral reefs.  To protect them from further bleaching events like this, we need to address climate change.

Federal Labor is committed to the sustainable management of Australia’s marine resources and we are a strong defender and manager of our oceans and those who use them. 

The Government currently has in front of it the Independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review Report, outlining recommendations regarding the future management of Australia’s marine parks.

There was no need for a review. The only reason the Government undertook this process is because Malcolm Turnbull is following the lead of Tony Abbott in failing to protect our oceans.

The review itself found that the proclaimed networks had a sound scientific basis and drew on the best available information.

The Marine Park plan the last Labor Government put in place created the world’s largest network of marine protected areas – over 3 million square kilometres were protected as Commonwealth Marine Parks. The jewel in the crown of this network was the Coral Sea.

So it’s particularly concerning to see that the pristine and iconic Coral Sea is now under threat with 100,000 square kilometres set to lose protections.

They’re taking a Marine National Park and turning it into an area that allows longline, purse seine and underwater trawling. A sustainable future for commercial fishing was entrenched in the original plan and there is no need commercially or justification environmentally for commercial practices to be extended in to a Marine National Park. The adjustment to fishing practices was the reason Labor took to the election a commitment to over $100 million in funding required to implement the marine parks network.