06/21/2012 - It will soon be much safer to be a fish in Australia, now that the country is planning to turn nearly one-third of its coastal waters into the world’s largest network of marine preserves. The plan would restrict fishing and oil and gas drilling in a patchwork totaling 1.2 million square miles, including the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef.
Australia’s move comes at a time of growing awareness of the importance of marine reserves to ease the pressure on ecosystems and creatures that are acutely vulnerable to overfishing, pollution and a changing climate. Often the wisest way to manage a wild resource is simply to let it alone, as the federal government has done in far northwestern Hawaii and in swordfish nurseries in Florida, and as California has done along parts of its extensive coastline. Such restraint can be difficult, especially when the Republican Party finds compromise toxic and is willing to sacrifice pro-environmental legislation to fossil-fuel extraction.
Read the full editorial, Good News from Down Under, on the New York Times' website.