The Guardian March 14, 2001

Call for marine parks along Victoria's coast

The Environment Conservation Council has proposed the establishment of 
13 marine national parks and 11 marine sanctuaries in Victoria. An e-mail 
campaign is underway in support of marine national parks but more effort is 
required to convince the Victorian Government to establish the parks.

If the marine parks and sanctuaries are established, 6.2 per cent of 
Victoria's coastal waters will become fully protected. This would be the 
first system of marine national parks established anywhere in the world.

The declining state of the world's oceans and the collapse of many 
fisheries are behind the need to urgently examine the faults of previous 
practices and what can be done to keep the oceans healthy, preserve marine 
biodiversity and the populations of endangered species.

Marine protected areas and Marine Sanctuaries would enhance conservation, 
but only if extractive activities are carefully monitored.

Marine reserves (MRVs) are areas of the sea completely protected from all 
extractive activities. Fishing and the removal of any living or non-living 
marine resource is prohibited except for monitoring or research to evaluate 
reserve effectiveness when necessary. At present, fully protected marine 
reserves encompass only 1/100 of 1 per cent of the seas.

Marine reserves are also sometimes called "ecological reserves", "fully-
protected marine reserves", or "no-take areas".

Good results

The first formal marine reserves were established more than two decades 
ago. Recent analysis of the changes within those reserves allowed 
scientists to come to the following conclusions:

* Strong opposition to the setting up of MRVs from fishers has turned into 
wholehearted support as reserves conserve both fisheries and biodiversity.

* The size and abundance of exploited species increases in areas adjacent 
to marine reserves as fish larvae spills over beyond the boundaries.

* Marine parks work and they work fast.

After only two years of protection the following results were obtained:

* population densities were on average 91 per cent higher;

* biomass was 192 per cent higher:

* average organism size was 31 per cent higher;

* species diversity was 23 per cent higher.

Marine reserves differ from parks on land because most marine species 
disperse through the water as larvae or spores are moved by tides and 
currents. Dispersal distances of 20 to 50 kms are not uncommon and 500 to 
1000kms is possible in some cases due to currents. This is one of the 
reasons that scientists want a network of reserves established taking into 
account the position of marine parks in relation to currents.

Message to the Premier

Premier Bracks of Victoria has promised to establish marine parks during 
his election campaign. It's time to honour this election commitment.

You can help the campaign of the Environment Conservation Council by 
sending an email message to the Premier, Deputy Premier and Treasurer 
asking them to proceed with the establishment of marine parks.

Send messages to:

Our aim is to have thousands of messages to the State Government within 
says says the Environment Conservation Council.

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