Thursday, 1 September 2011

Scientists Raise Alarm About Poor Protection For South West Australia Marine Life

More than 170 marine scientists from Australia and overseas, including 14 Pew Fellows and Advisors, have joined together to raise concerns that critical areas for marine life in the South West of Australia have been ignored in a federal government plan for new marine parks.

The scientists have sent Environment Minister Tony Burke a ‘statement of concern’ about the proposed plan and highlighted that no marine sanctuaries have been proposed for three of the seven bioregions in the South
West, defying the government’s own commitment to establish a representative reserve system. “If implemented as proposed, the marine reserves would cover less than half of the mapped habitat types within the South West planning region in highly protected areas,” the scientists state.

The scientists identified the Abrolhos Islands region, Rottnest Shelf, Perth Canyon, Geographe Bay, Albany Canyons, Recherche region, Great Australian Bight and Kangaroo Island Canyons as being in need of high levels of protection. “We are greatly concerned that what is currently proposed in the Draft South West Plan is not based on the three core science principles of the reserve network design: comprehensiveness, adequacy and representation,” they write.

Pew Fellows and Advisors who signed the letter include: Andrew Baker, associate professor at the University of Miami; Callum Roberts, professor at the University of York; Carl Safina, president of the Blue Ocean Institute; Dan Laffoley, professor and marine vice chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas; Daniel Pauly, professor at the University of British Columbia; Elliott Norse, president of the Marine Conservation Institute; Fiorenza Micheli, professor at Stanford University; Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, president of the Tethys Research Institute; John Ogden, emeritus professor at the University of South Florida; Larry Crowder, professor at Stanford University; Patrick Christie, associate professor at the University of Washington; Peter Auster, research professor at the University of Connecticut; Rashid Sumaila, professor at the University of British Columbia; and Steve Gaines, dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara.