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Australia plans huge marine reserve in Coral Sea

 

The Coral Sea is home to diverse wildlife, including sharks and tuna. Source: AP

The Australian government has proposed to create the world’s largest marine reserve in the Coral Sea.  This proposal would set aside 989,842 square kilometers (382,180 square miles) in order to protect the large degree of biodiversity in this region.  The Coral Sea reserve would protect the area east of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park through imposing new fishing limitations as well as banning the exploration for oil and gas. This protected zone would practically double the size of the current largest marine reserve in the world around the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Islands and would encompass two existing marine reserves, the Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve and the Lihou Reed National Nature Reserve.  The proposal must undergo a 90 day consultation period before the Australian government will be able to establish this marine reserve.  There have been concerns on both sides about this reserve, from the commercial fisherman who have voiced that they would require larger areas designated for fishing to activists who have pointed out that key reefs and spawning grounds will not be included in the reserve region.  The consultation period is set to conclude on February 24, 2012.

Nick Hudson

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