The Australian Greens today welcomed the international spotlight on marine waters off south-western Australia following the launch of the protecting Western Australia’s Big Blue Backyard report.
“The waters off Western Australia between Kalbarri and Eucla richly deserve this attention because they are one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world,” Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said.
“A huge number of these marine plants and animals are found nowhere else but off WA. They thrive in this region’s unique marine ecosystems, unusual underwater features and enjoy relative safety compared to some of the threats faced by marine creatures in seas off other countries.
“We must ensure adequate protection is in place for this unique but threatened environment.
“This region, which is currently subject to the Rudd Government’s first attempt at regional marine planning, has been recorded as having experienced a significant rise in the ocean temperature in the past 50 years.
“This is considered to at least be a partial cause of a major decline in Australia’s most valuable fishery, the western rock lobster fishery, worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
“There is every chance that this ocean warming has, or will soon be, accompanied by an increase in ocean acidity, which limits the ability of coral and many types of fish to grow.
“Meanwhile, our marine life is also experiencing over-fishing, pollution and disturbance from industry such as shipping and oil and gas extraction.
“It is therefore essential that we guarantee good marine planning for WA’s waters, including a comprehensive network of marine parks where marine ecosystems will be able to build up resilience to current and future threats.
“Protecting this unique environment will require sufficient funding for research, implementation and policing – and above all, leadership from Government,” Senator Siewert concluded.
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