Filling the Gaps of Australia’s Commonwealth Marine Reserve System
There’s more confrontations expected between recreational/commercial fishers, government MPA planners and conservationists over the issue of marine parks. A lot of the spearfishing sites and Facebook groups I follow have regular posts on the ‘unnecessary’ expansion of marine parks, citing either anecdotal evidence (i.e. author’s opinion) or at best, out-of-context quotes from academic papers. I’m proudly a keen spearfisher too but have no time for people in the sport who decry marine parks while displaying constant photos of their undersized or over the limit kills.
There needs to be more clear, science-based communication from the government on why marine parks are needed, how fishers, conservation groups and regular folk all benefit and also, where any marine parks have been placed in the wrong areas and need to be reassessed. Because the latter has and will continue to happen, and pretending it doesn’t only serves to strengthen the case of anti-marine park activists
Australia’s Commonwealth Marine Reserve System is currently under review. I wrote a submission with Prof. Possingham on behalf of the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions tackling the issue of representation in the current reserve network.
Key findings of our analysis:
- Less than 3% of shelf habitats are protected in the strictest IUCN MPA Categories ( Ia and II)
- Twenty-two percent of bioregions have less than 10% protection in any form of MPA category- (the most liberal conservation scheme we could analyse)
- While there is no scope to augment the existing reserve boundaries, there is potential to better protect the diverse range of habitats found within the broader network and ensure that every bioregion benefits from at least one strict MPA class
You can view the full submission here.