This past Tuesday, Australia announced its proposal of the largest ever Marine Protected Area. The park will encompass 999,000 square kilometers (roughly 380,000 square miles) of the Coral Sea near Papua New Guinea. Possibly the most interesting aspect of this designation is that over 500,000 square kilometers will be allocated as “No Take Areas” where no fishing of any sort is allowed. This leaves roughly 500,000 square kilometers where fishing and recreation will be heavily regulated. Many environmentalists are outraged calling for a greater proportion of the MPA to be a No Take Area, but the government is trying to balance the interests of their fishing industry as well. The environmentalists stress that No Take areas are crucial in keeping many species from becoming endangered, as they represent their feeding and breeding grounds.
The site is part of Australia’s larger effort to make all of their waters protected. What might be more accurate is saying that Australia plans to heavily regulate all of their waters, considering the absence of No Take Areas. Yet the government is determined to protect and uphold the many treasures that can be found in the waters off its Coast. The MPA proposed has 20 isolate reefs, deep sea plains and canyons, as well as spectacular biodiversity.
Overall, while this park is clearly a step in the right direction for protecting marine and aquatic life there is the overall feeling that more could be done, but because of our reliance on fisheries it has become an interesting predicament for governments to handle.