Australian government has announced plans to create a 989,842 square
kilometres nature reserve off the country's northeast coast. The
Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve would be the world's largest
marine nature reserve stretching from the Great Barrier Reef to Papua
New Guinea in the north and the Solomon Islands in the east.
regulations limiting commercial fishing will be imposed and
exploration for oil and gas will be prohibited completely. The
Australian government will hold a 90-day public consultation period
before finalising proposals.
area is a habitat to dozens of endangered species and large predatory
fish such as sharks and tuna. Many uninhabited islands which provide
nesting sites for green turtles and rare seabirds will also be part
of the nature reserve.
is no other part of Australia's territory where so much comes
together - pristine oceans, magnificent coral, a military history
which has helped define us and now a clear proposal for permanent
protection.The environmental significance of the Coral Sea lies in
its diverse array of coral reefs, sandy cays, deep sea plains and
canyons. It contains more than 20 outstanding examples of isolated
tropical reefs, sandy cays and islands. Australia's vast oceans
provide a source of food and resources and are a place of recreation.
But we cannot afford to be complacent."
groups complain that the restrictions do not go far enough.
welcome the exclusion of oil and gas extraction and the ban on
fishing gear that destroys seafloor habitats. However, protection
levels need to be stronger, particularly in vulnerable areas, to
ensure the Coral Sea's long-term protection.”
waters are also the resting place of three US navy ships sunk in the
Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.