World’s Largest Marine Reserve Proposed in Australia’s Coral Sea

Australia has proposed the creation of the world’s largest marine park in the Coral Sea, a 382,000-square-mile area where fishing would be limited and oil and gas exploration would be banned. The so-called Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve would begin in waters about 36 miles off Australia’s northeastern coast, an area known for its array of coral reefs, sandy cays, sea plains, and canyons. According to Tony Burke, Australia’s Environment Minister, the waters of this area have become increasingly vulnerable to overfishing and habitat degradation. “In the space of one lifetime, the world’s oceans have gone from being relatively pristine to being under increasing pressure,” Burke said. According to the plan, 196,000 of the reserve square miles will be designated as “no take” areas where fishing is banned. Larissa Waters, a Queensland senator and Green Party member, said the plan doesn’t go far enough, with only two out of every 25 reefs receiving “full protection.”