Save Our Tropical Sealife is an alliance of conservation groups working to ensure the tropical sealife of Australia’s north and north west is, protected in a world-class network of large marine sanctuaries from Kalbarri (WA) to the tip of Cape York (Qld).
The Commonwealth waters that lie offshore in the Ningaloo-Pilbara, Kimberley, Top End, and Gulf regions harbour iconic underwater treasures of global significance and provide a home to much-loved species including snubfin dolphins, dugong, whales and sea turtles.
These regions support one of the last intact, large tropical marine ecosystems on the planet. A global analysis of human impacts on the marine environment rated Northern Australia as one of the only relatively pristine coastal areas left on Earth.
While Traditional Owners of this coast have an intimate knowledge of their sea country developed over countless generations, scientists are only now beginning to understand the staggering breadth of wildlife that lives here.
Until recently, the remoteness of these waters protected tropical sealife from threats felt elsewhere, but increasing pressure from fishing, and the massive expansion of the oil and gas industry are threatening the long-term future of these underwater icons.
Large marine sanctuaries
With increasing human pressure on the world’s tropical marine environments, Australia has a global responsibility to protect these tropical sea treasures.
Effectively protected, our Ningaloo-Pilbara, Kimberley, Top End and Gulf waters will be a global haven that helps safeguard the world’s endangered sea turtles, vulnerable dugong, rare dolphins, migratory whales, and fragile coral reefs.
On the 16th of November 2012, Australia’s Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke set in law the worlds largest network of marine reserves. This network of reserves covers 492 920 km2 and includes 21 separate marine reserves throughout Australia’s tropical seas to the north and north west of our continent. This is a necessary, important and historic step forward for the protection of Australia’s marine life yet still less than 7% of these waters are highly protected in marine sanctuaries.
The Federal Government is currently developing management plans for this new network of marine parks. In the meantime, interim management arrangements apply and there will be no on-water changes within the reserves until July 2014.
The network of marine reserves is welcome but falls short of fully protecting some important areas of Australia’s globally significant tropical marine environment including in Limmen Bight, around the Rowley Shoals, and the Coburg Pinnacles.
For more information contact
- Darren Kindleysides, Director, Australian Marine Conservation Society, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stuart Blanch, Director, Environment Centre Northern Territory, email@example.com
- Gavan McFadzean, Northern Australia Campaigner, The Wilderness Society firstname.lastname@example.org
- Michelle Grady, Marine Manager, Pew Environment Group email@example.com
- Paul Gamblin, Marine Policy Manager, WWF-Australia firstname.lastname@example.org
 Halpern et al. (2008) A Global Map of Human Impact on Marine Ecosystems. Science 15 February 2008: Vol. 319 no. 5865 pp. 948-952