Humane Society International (HSI) today welcomed the announcement by Environment Minister Peter Garrett to protect the Coral Sea, through the establishment of the Coral Sea Conservation Zone. The Conservation Zone will protect the unique characteristics of the Coral Sea whilst the marine bioregional planning process is undertaken with the aim of delivering longer term protection.
The Coral Sea encompasses a diverse range of underwater habitats and is home to a spectacular array of wildlife, being one of the few places in the world where large pelagic fishes such as tuna and sharks have not been severely depleted. HSI believes that only the implementation of full ‘no-take' protection to this area will maintain the region's pristine condition. In 2008 HSI identified the area as being of national conservation importance and has therefore nominated it for national heritage listing, which is also currently under consideration.
The area also has significant military and civic heritage values that are of great importance to Australia's cultural history. It was the scene of the first battle at sea, a battle that has been recognised by Prime Minister Rudd as one which “marked a dramatic and permanent strengthening” of ties between Australians and Americans. This gives further support for heritage protection
“The protection of the Coral Sea is an essential first step to ensure the future of an area rich in natural and cultural history”, said Alexia Wellbelove, HSI Program Officer. “We will be engaging with the marine bioregional planning process to ensure areas of critical importance to those species found in the Coral Sea are included within the future protected zone, and will be calling for the application of a strict ‘no-take' protection approach”.
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