Green groups today welcomed the announcement by Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett to establish a Conservation Zone over the entire Coral Sea within Australian waters and called on the Minister to ensure sufficient resources for his Department to carry out a full and prompt assessment of the area.
The conservation groups believe Garrett’s announcement signals a clear intent by the Government to permanently protect the Coral Sea in its entirety, a decision that would make the zone the largest protected area on Earth.
“Despite its environmental and historic importance, less than one percent of Australia’s Coral Sea is protected from extractive industries and its future is not secure,” said Elise Hawthorne of the Pew Environment Group – Australia. “The extraordinary historic and natural value of the Coral Sea offers the Australian Government an unparalleled opportunity to protect a vast area of the world’s threatened ocean, right next to the Great Barrier Reef.”
“The Coral Sea is one of the last remaining places on Earth where populations of large ocean fish – sharks, tuna and billfish – have not been drastically reduced,” said Nicola Temple of the Australian Marine Conservation Society. “With 90 per cent of large ocean fish gone from the world’s oceans over the last 50 years due to overfishing, this makes the Coral Sea worthy of a high level of protection.”