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Australia announces network of marine parks

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012

Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2012 09:06


SYDNEY - The Australian government announced Thursday a plan for what it said would be the world's largest network of marine parks.

The new network of 44 marine parks would cover 3.1 million square kilometres.

It would limit commercial fishing and some oil and gas exploration to protect coral reefs and fish stocks.

"What we have effectively done is create a national park system for the ocean," Environment Minister Tony Burke told reporters at the launch of the plan.

"This is the biggest step forward the world has ever seen. We have decided to become the world leader in ocean protection."

It extends marine protection to the Coral Sea and reefs well out into the ocean.

The fishing industry could be entitled to millions of dollars in compensation if the plan goes ahead as intended by the end of 2012.

A consultation process is to be carried out before it comes into force.

Burke will take the plan to the Rio(plus)20 summit next week, set to mark the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 as a model for the rest of the world to follow.

The Australian Marine Alliance, which represents commercial fishers, said 70 trawlers could go out of business.

"This is devastating and those who will suffer the most will be coastal communities," alliance Chief Executive Dean Logan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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