Big Marine Move Down Under
Last week, Australia announced that it was preparing to create the world's largest network of marine parks, a protected area the size of India. “It's a bigger step forward than the globe has ever previously seen,” said Environment Minister Tony Burke. “Australia is a good manager of its fisheries, but that doesn't mean we can't go a step further and establish a National Parks estate within the ocean.”
Burke’s edict, expected to be finalized by the end of this year, will extend protection to 1.2 million square miles, one third of the nation’s territorial waters. It will restrict oil and gas exploration as well as fishing of the island continent nation’s more than 4,000 fish species. Currently, 310,000 square miles of Australia’s waters are protected, and just 1.1 million square miles of oceans worldwide are protected, according to Protect Planet Ocean.
Hawksbill turtle in Coral Sea. Image by iStock/Tammy616.
Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”