CCG North-west Planning Region Report to Australia' Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review

In reviewing the available data on the North-west Marine Reserve Network the Centre for Conservation Geography makes five key findings relating to a review of the zoning plans for the North-west Marine Reserves (the North-west Marine Reserve Network and it’s zoning was passed into law by the Abbott Government in December 2013[1]):

  1. Marine National Park Zones:  Are critical to the protection of the North-west Marine Region’s marine life with the weight of scientific evidence showing that partially protected zones don’t deliver the broad ranging and significant benefits for marine life of highly protected zones. The Centre for Conservation Geography recommends expanding the number and size of Marine National Park Zones in the North-west Marine Reserve Network particularly within poorly protected shelf and upper slope environments.
  2. Social and economic impacts:  The information compiled by the Centre for Conservation Geography shows that the net social and economic value of the North-west Marine Reserve Network to the Australian community is upwards of $250 million. Within this positive impacts on nature based tourism and recreational fishing are expected to outweigh any possible negative impacts on commercial fishing. Community support for the marine reserves is very strong with over 99% of the nearly 20,000 submissions to the public consultation process supportive of increased protection for the North-west Marine Region. The zoning plan could be improved so as to enhance the positive social and economic impacts by providing increased protection to key tourism assets like the Kimberley, Rowley Shoals and Ningaloo and by extending the area protected from destructive fishing practices like pelagic gillnetting and longlining.
  3. Destructive fishing practices:  The Government’s risk assessment process found six commercial fishing practices to be incompatible with the conservation values of the North-west Marine Reserve Network. The zoning plan should be adjusted to ensure that these six fishing practices are fully removed from the North-west Marine Reserve Network.
  4. Seabed mining:  The North-west Marine Reserve Network leaves 88% of the North-west Marine Region open to seabed mining. Australian’s don’t want to see mining across such large swathes of our oceans. The zoning plan for the North-west Marine Reserve Network needs to play a more significant role in helping to find a better balance between mining and the other values of the ocean.
  5. Unprotected habitats: Major concerns exist within the scientific community about the low level of protection for the unique habitats of the shelf and upper slope environments of the North-west Marine Region. Habitats with low, or no protection within Marine National Park Zones include key ecological features and biologically important areas for iconic species like Sea Turtles, Sawfish and Humpback Whales. The review should consider increasing the protection for these features.


[1] Commonwealth of Australia, 2013. Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (Commonwealth Marine Reserves) Proclamation 2013 <>


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CCG North-west Planning Region report to Australia's Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review in March 2015.
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