Reef, coral reefs, ocean, ocean health
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are Australia’s unspoiled tropical island paradise, and are home to array of diverse marine life including tropical fish, corals, turtles, manta rays and dolphins. Photo: Getty Images.

Two new marine parks covering 740,000 square kilometres of Australian waters around Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands will be established as part of the Federal Budget’s 2021-22 Oceans Leadership Package.

More than $39 million will support the establishment of the new Marine Protected Area (MPA), an area twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef. 

The MPA will support ocean health, scientific research, and the blue economy, while delivering greater protection from illegal international fishing operations.

The Director of The Pew Charitable Trust, Michelle Grady, said the Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are uniquely Australian and globally significant, “there’s nowhere like them on earth”.

“Most famous for its annual red crab migration, Christmas Island was referred to as one of the 10 natural wonders of the world by David Attenborough himself,” Ms Grady said.

“Its thriving rainforests, deserted beaches and fringing reef provide a haven for unique and rare seabirds, land crabs and marine life.

“The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are Australia’s unspoiled tropical island paradise. Their azure waters are home to an incredible array of diverse marine life including tropical fish, corals, turtles, manta rays and dolphins.”

CEO of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Darren Kindleysides, said establishing the marine parks to provide a haven for marine life is critical.

“Oceans across the globe are in deep trouble from pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and the very real and immediate impacts of climate change,” Mr Kindleysides said.

The $100 million Oceans Leadership Package will go towards supporting Australia’s efforts to tackle climate change by delivering outcomes both domestically and internationally by committing to a sustainable ocean economy by protecting marine species and restoring coastal habitats.

The package will deliver cleaner beaches, reduce fisheries bycatch, increase fish stocks, protect turtles and seabirds, and support coastal and Indigenous communities reliant on the ocean for their livelihoods.

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