1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Efforts to protect Australia's ocean environment include the establishment of a system of marine protected areas, and the establishment of guidelines to select and manage protected areas. Marine protected areas help preserve habitat and natural population levels for the species that live in these environments.

While many rare or threatened species are protected from direct harm by legislation, it is also important to ensure that steps are taken to protect their habitats. Species need secure areas in which to forage and breed if they are to survive in the long term. Increased sediment and pollutants, and lower salinity and natural disasters, have caused additional stress to the reefs.

Marine parks are home to turtles, seabirds, various marine mammals, coral species, seagrasses, molluscs and fish. The diversity and abundance of marine life also attracts tourists, generating business opportunities for coastal communities. Tourist activities include snorkelling, scuba diving, whale watching, swimming with dolphins and turtles and viewing coral reefs. While tourism is an essential part of the economy, unless managed carefully, it can have an adverse effect on the reefs themselves.

Moreover, coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to human induced climate change, and coral bleaching is more likely to occur when sea temperatures increase. Climate change is also expected to lead to increased costs associated with monitoring and managing changes observed in reefs.

Australia's Commonwealth marine reserves covered 84.3 million hectares in 2007, an increase of 58% from 53.4 million hectares in 2000. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, off the coast of Queensland, is Australia's largest marine reserve managed by the Commonwealth government and covers an area of more than 34 million hectares.


  • Oceans and estuaries glossary
  • Oceans and estuaries references

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