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

In reviewing the available data on the South-west Marine Reserve Network the Centre for Conservation Geography makes five key findings relating to a review of the zoning plans for the South-west Marine Reserves (the South-west Marine Reserve Network and its 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 South-west’s marine life with the weight of scientific evidence showing that partially protected zones do not deliver the broad ranging and significant benefits for marine life of highly protected zones, yet entail all of, or greater, management costs. The Centre for Conservation Geography recommends expanding the number, size, representativeness and replication of Marine National Park Zones in the South-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 South-west Marine Reserve Network to the Australian community is $3.2 billion. Within this positive impacts on nature based tourism and recreational fishing are found to outweigh any possible negative impacts on commercial fishing by at least $2 million per annum. Community support for the marine reserves is very strong with over 90% of the nearly 40,000 submissions to the public consultation process supportive of increased protection for the South-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 Bremer and Perth Canyons and by extending the area protected from destructive fishing practices like gillnetting.
  3. Destructive fishing practices:  The Government’s risk assessment process found four commercial fishing practices to be incompatible with the conservation values of the South-west Marine Reserve Network. The zoning plan should be adjusted to ensure that these four fishing practices are fully removed from the South-west Marine Reserve Network.
  4. Seabed mining:  While the South-west Marine Reserve Network protects The Capes and Margaret River area from mining over 80% of the South-west Marine Region remains open to seabed mining. Australians do not want to see mining across such large swathes of our oceans. The zoning plan for the South-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 South-west Marine Region. Habitats with low, or no protection within Marine National Park Zones include key ecological features and the biologically important areas for iconic species like blue whales and Australian Sea Lions. 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 <http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L02108>

 

Report: 
application/pdf icon
CCG South-west Planning Region Report to Australia's Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review in March 2015.
empowered by Tribe Rising