More than 170 marine scientists from Australia and overseas have joined together to raise concerns that critical areas for marine life in the South West of Australia have been ignored in a Federal Government plan for new marine parks.
The 173 marine scientists have sent Environment Minister Tony Burke a ‘statement of concern' about the proposed plan and highlighted that no marine sanctuaries have been proposed for 3 of the 7 bioregions in the South West, defying the government's own commitment to establish a representative reserve system.
“If implemented as proposed, the marine reserves would cover less than half of the mapped habitat types within the South West planning region in highly protected areas,” the scientists state.
The scientists identified the Abrolhos Islands region, Rottnest Shelf, Perth Canyon, Geographe Bay, Albany Canyons, Recherche region, Great Australian Bight and Kangaroo Island Canyons as being in need of a high level of protection.
“We are greatly concerned that what is currently proposed in the Draft South West Plan is not based on the three core science principles of the reserve network design: comprehensiveness, adequacy and representation.”
The ‘statement of concern' also urges the Federal Government to significantly increase protection of critical areas in a network of sanctuaries.
“Networks of protected areas, with large fully protected core zones, are essential to maintain healthy ecosystems over the long term – complementing responsible fisheries management.”
The scientists also emphasized that less than 3.5% of the continental shelf in the South West where both extraction of resources and biodiversity vales are most intense are properly protected in the government's plan.
“The ability of such small isolated areas to maintain connectivity and fulfill the goal of protecting Australia's marine biodiversity is limited.”
Public consultation on the proposed plan by the Federal Government is open until Monday, 8 August.
Media enquiries: Paul Sheridan, 410 516 656