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Reef Report for Monday, June 1, 2009

Marine Conservation Planning Expanded to Include the Coral Sea

Environment Minister Peter Garret today announced the establishment of a new Marine Conservation Area, that includes a large chunk of pristine ocean and isolated coral reefs.

The newly establish Coral Sea Conservation Zone is almost a million square kilometers in size, starting just outside the western boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park all the way to the eastern edge of Australiaís exclusive economic zone.

Right now there are no new regulations about activities in this area, only that any economic activity be reported. © Great Barrier Reef Enterprises Getting a sense of what is happening in this area is a good start, and we hope that as time goes on the focus of any future regulations will be towards limiting all use to sustainable activities. We feel the only thing thatís been protecting this region in the past few years has been its remote location and high fuel costs keeping all uses to a minimum. That unfortunately may change if surrounding nations do not use their more local ocean resources sustainably.

Locally there has been some opposition to this plan. Most of it is aimed at the Pew Trust, which opponents point to as an oil-influenced outsider aimed at weakening Australia, other arguments point out that there are already too many rules and regulations.

We disagree on both points. Using resources sustainably is the only way to both protect natural resources for their own sake and provide for human interests in the long term. Rules and regulations are a necessary part of them whether itís government or a user group making them.

Press release and link to full legislation, from the Environment Minister

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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