Commonwealth marine reserves - Overview
Consistent with the commitment for a more competitive and sustainable fisheries sector, the Australian Government will be moving to review the current management plans for the Commonwealth marine reserves announced in November 2012. The Government will be appointing a scientific review panel and bioregional advisory panels to provide advice on future marine reserve arrangements.
The Government will provide further detail on the review as it becomes available.
Marine reserves (also known as marine protected areas or marine parks) are parts of the ocean that are managed primarily for the conservation of their ecosystems, habitats and the marine life they support. The Commonwealth marine reserves network includes examples of all of Australia's different marine ecosystems and habitats.
The creation and effective management of marine reserves is widely regarded, both nationally and internationally, as one of the most effective mechanisms for maintaining the long-term health and productivity of our oceans.
While the primary objective in establishing the reserves is the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of natural resources is allowed in the network where doing so is consistent with this primary objective.
The Commonwealth marine reserve estate includes 60 reserves (including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park) covering 3.1 million square kilometres, approximately a third of Commonwealth waters.
National Representative System
Commonwealth marine reserves are identified and selected through the marine bioregional planning process as part of Australia's commitment to establish a National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas (NRSMPA) by 2012. This commitment was made by the Commonwealth, State and Northern Territory governments in 1998 and confirmed at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Public Consultation on reserves and management plans
In July 2012, the Director of National Parks published a notice in the Government Gazette inviting public comment on the proposal to declare new Commonwealth marine reserves. The 60 day comment period concluded on 10 September 2012 with the department receiving around 80,000 submissions. The Director of National Parks considered the comments received and provided a report to the Minister detailing the comments and the Director's views on the comments received. The then Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, recommended to the Governor-General that the reserves be proclaimed under Australia's national environmental law.
Following the proclamation of the marine reserves, the Director of National Parks invited public comment on the scope of the management plans, followed by comments on the draft plans for the reserves.
The department received over 100 000 submissions in response to the two public comment periods regarding management plans for each of the South-west, North-west, North, Temperate East and South-east Networks and the Coral Sea Reserve.
Find out more
Department of the Environment
Edgar Waite Building
203 Channel Highway
Kingston TAS 7050
Phone: 1800 069 352