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Marine Reserves in Southern Australia

Marine reserves celebrate some stunning underwater environments, but many of Australia's Cool Seas are yet to be protected.

In southern Australia, a number of marine reserves have been established for the purposes of marine conservation and management. In 1990, the Australian Government established a marine conservation plan: "Ocean Rescue 2000". One of the objectives of this program was to establish a network of marine protected areas (MPA's) around Australia.

Australia has been recognised as a world leader in using marine protected areas for marine conservation and management - 24% of the total number of Marine Protected Areas in the world are found in Australia. However, a large proportion of these areas fall within a single MPA, the tropical Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Most of Australia's MPA's are found on the east coast of Australia and in the tropics. In southern Australia's cool waters, MPA's are generally small, yet this is the area of Australia that contains some of the most diverse groups of marine animals and plants found anywhere in the world. There is clearly a need to expand the levels of protection of cool water environments in Australia.

The state of South Australia was the first Australian state to legislate for MPA's, in 1971. It has 30 MPA's, with a total area of around 300 sq km. This represents only 1.5% of the state's waters.

MPA's in Australia serve many functions including conserving nature, protecting commercial fisheries resources, protecting human heritage and providing tourism, recreation, education and research opportunities. For more information on Australia's marine reserves, visit the State of the Marine Environment Report, on Environment Australia's web page.

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