A long-awaited federal plan for a network of marine reserves around the entire Australian continent has been announced.
According to The Washington Post, this will be the world’s largest network of marine reserves, encompassing 1.2 million square miles of ocean (about the size of India) — a third of Australia’s territorial waters. In some areas, oil and gas exploration will be banned; in other areas, including much of the Coral Sea, commercial and recreational fishing will be banned or limited.
The Pew Environment Group, which had campaigned hard to have the entire Coral Sea closed, hailed the closure of “a massive, fully protected marine reserve in the Coral Sea.”
Though the Green party has said the plan is insufficient, the country’s commercial fishing industry has called the reserves a nightmare, though some reports say up to $100 million will be paid to commercial fishermen in compensation.
Access to the country's coastal waters for recreational anglers will be diminished. Sport fishermen have been shut out of areas which they had been led to believe would remain open such as the Coral Sea’s Marion and Osprey reefs and others. Recreational fishers say it is absurd to shut them out where the resource is undiminished and where catch-and-release fishing is already widely practiced.