Marine animals and plants face many threats, including land-based pollution, fishing, mining, marine noise and, significantly, climate change. Marine sanctuaries are vital for the protection of marine life and their habitats, particularly endangered and threatened species.
The current NSW Government’s Department of Primary Industries undertakes the day-to-day management of marine parks. Under pressure from fishing interests, it has removed many marine areas from protection with only 7% of the NSW coastline now protected by marine sanctuaries.
The remaining marine sanctuaries are under constant threat of being downgraded. For example, Cape Byron Marine Park, home to diverse animal and plant life, had two of its sanctuary zones downgraded to allow for recreational fishing. The NSW Government similarly downgraded six sanctuary zones in Batemans Marine Park.
- Oversight for marine parks must be transferred from the Department of Primary Industries to the Department of Planning and Environment in order to prioritise environmental protection over commercial and recreational exploitation.
- $20m in funding to enforce compliance and resource monitoring and evaluation of marine parks.
- The immediate reinstatement of the 16 marine sanctuaries that were previously removed from the existing marine park network.
- Sydney Harbour to be added to the marine parks network given its incredible marine biodiversity with 675 species of fish calling Sydney home.
- Marine parks policy to focus on conservation, not ‘resource management’. It is recognised that marine animals and plants thrive inside fully protected ‘no-take’ sanctuary zones.