Sunday, November 27, 2011

You bet your Wrasse!

This is the proposed Commonwealth marine reserve - details here.

Meet Barry.

I must say, kudos to the Australian government!
They have decided to go ahead and establish the World's largest MPA.
Here is the official media release, here are resources about the proposal, here are details about the 90-day public consultation and here are details about public information sessions.

Like always, the various conservation groups are not happy.
This is part of a larger plan to manage Australia's marine bioregions and as I've posted here, there are clear warnings that when it comes to the South West Bioregion, government is not heeding scientific advice and muzzling scientists on top of it. I completely ignore whether the same may be the case in the specific case of the Coral Sea - but when heavyweights like Pew and the WWF express concerns, the proposal may indeed fall short of what would be really required.
As it appears that iconic sites like Osprey and Marion would not be suitably protected I would have to agree.

But perfect or not, it's a great start.
In the end, it's up to the Australians.
The consultation period has just started so there is ample scope for all interested Australians to have their voices heard. As always, the end result will have to be a pragmatic compromise where the legitimate (!) aspirations of all stakeholders will have to be considered. This is only fair and not much different from what is happening in the USA and like there, it has to be applauded. That is, provided that the principles of ecosystem-based management are being rigorously applied - and when it comes to that, I am not too sure!

Let us hope that good conservation will prevail in the end.
But in order for that to happen, the conservationist vote will have to be mobilized.
Here's the online submission page, here is a shortcut via Protect our Coral Sea, and I'm sure many more similar initiatives will follow.
Best of luck!

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