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Marine Parks: You Need Fish To Fish

South Australia needs multiple-use marine parks including sanctuary zones to protect the long-term future of our marine environment.

Eighty five to ninety percent of the marine life in South Australian waters is found nowhere else on Earth, and less than one percent of the marine environment is protected.

Fish stocks are under pressure and declining catch rates in South Australia are a reflection of a global pattern of resource decline. Pollution is responsible for some of the drop in marine life in our coastal waters, especially around Adelaide, but overfishing is by far the biggest threat.

Eighty per cent of the world's fish stocks are either being fished to their absolute limit or are already overfished. Global catches peaked in the late 1980s and have fallen drastically ever since.

South Australia is not immune and, even with all the different fisheries management strategies at our disposal, catch rates are falling for key commercial species, including the lucrative southern rock lobster.

In response to this situation, the State Parliament passed the Marine Parks Act 2007, which enables the establishment of a representative system of marine parks in our State's waters.  In January 2009, the State Government then declared the boundaries of 19 Marine Parks. These Marine Parks are located inside State waters (within 5km of shore), from west to east and inside the gulfs. You’ll find a map of the South Australian Marine Park boundaries here.

Marine parks in SA will be zoned for multiple-uses. This means that most recreational and commercial activities, including fishing and boating, will still be allowed in most areas. There will be some small sanctuary and restricted access zones in each marine park where fishing will not be allowed in the interests of conservation.

What are Sanctuary Zones?

Sanctuary zones, also referred to as No-Take Zones, are areas of high conservation value where fishing and aquaculture is not permitted in order to protect habitats and species.

The overwhelming consensus of marine scientists conclude that sanctuary zones not only conserve marine life but also provide a long-term benefit to fishing and other activities dependent on marine resources, such as tourism.  In many sanctuary zones in Australia and overseas, marine species have increased in number and diversity in a very short period of time, depending on the life-span of the particular species. Shorter lived species recover quickest with longer lived species taking more time.

Activities such as boating, swimming, diving and snorkelling will still be allowed in sanctuary zones.

The Government’s preliminary scenarios for sanctuary zones covered just 10% of SA’s waters.

Where will be Sanctuary Zones be?

The State Government has been consulting the South Australian community and stakeholders regarding the location of proposed Sanctuary Zones within the Marine Parks.

Thirteen Marine Park Local Advisory Groups (MPLAGs) were formed in January 2010 to consider and advise the Government on zoning and management issues for the State's 19 marine parks. The MPLAGs were given preliminary sanctuary zone scenarios as a starting point to help group members, other stakeholders and the wider community begin talking about how they would prefer to see marine parks zoned. The advice the Government received on preferred zoning scenarios was very different from the preliminary scenarios. 

Following consultation, a key stakeholder forum was held on 11 and 12 April 2012 where broad agreement was reached on the priority areas for conservation. You can view that agreement here.

A proposal for the location of these sanctuary zones has been developed. You can view an interactive map of the zoning preview here or download a PDF version here.

The Greens are pleased to see some of South Australia's most iconic high conservation value areas such as the Nuyts Reef, Isles of St Francis, Pearson Island, areas around Kangaroo Island and the Coorong coast have been included in sanctuaries.

It's is a good start, but it's not enough!

Other important high conservation value areas such as Franklin and Eyre Islands off the Ceduna coast, Top Gallant Isles off the Elliston coast, the coastline adjacent to the Chain of Bays, the coastlines adjacent to Cape Gantheaume Wilderness Area and D'Estrees Bay on Kangaroo Island, the coastline adjacent to Deep Creek Conservation Park, and the coastline adjacent to Innes National Park aren't protected.  They should be.

Concerns have also been expressed about the siting of the proposed sanctuary zone at Point Lowly, which is needed to protect the breeding grounds of the Giant Australian Cuttlefish. See the Cuttlefish Country website for more details.


Have your say on the online discussion on the SA Government's website.

 The Greens believe that:

The health of Australia’s fishing industries is dependent on adequate conservation and sustainable management measures that ensure the replenishment of fishing stocks. 

The Australian Greens policy is to seek a “Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) system of marine reserves in both Commonwealth and state and territory waters, to adequately conserve and protect Australia’s unique marine, coastal and estuarine biodiversity”. 

The Greens aim to “ensure that the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas program has legislated targets of a minimum of 30% ‘no take’ areas per bioregion by 2012.”

For the full version of the Australian Greens policy on Marine and Coastal Areas, click here


The politics of Marine Parks

A large number of community groups and non-government organisations have been campaigning for the protection of marine ecosystems and supporting the establishment of marine parks and sanctuary zones for many years. At the same time there has also been a concerted campaign by individuals and organisations who oppose marine parks (eg commercial fishing interests and some recreational fishers). 

A diversity of views and a robust debate is a sign of a healthy democracy, however some anti-marine parks campaigners have been scaremongering and spreading a great deal of misinformation about marine parks which has caused unnecessary concern to some individuals and communities.  See “Myths & Facts” below for more information.

On February 9th 2011, the Liberal Party moved a motion in the Legislative Council calling on the Minister for Environment and Conservation to place an immediate moratorium on the imposition of the draft sanctuary zones contained within the Marine Parks’ outer boundaries for South Australia.  On February 23rd Mark spoke against the Liberals motion. Click here to read his speech.

In March 2011, Family First moved a motion to establish a Select Committee Inquiry into marine parks with the following terms of reference: ”(a) claims by Professor Bob Kearney that the evidence used by the government in support of marine parks reflected a 'biased misuse of the available science'; (b) detrimental effects to recreational fishers and the commercial fishing industry through the imposition of marine parks; (c) detrimental effects to property values through the imposition of marine parks; (d) complaints by local communities and fishing groups regarding the consultation process associated with the implementation of marine parks; (e) interstate and international moves to limit the extent of sanctuary zones; and (f) the correct balance of general marine park areas to no-take sanctuary zone areas.” 

With the support of the Liberal Party, the Select Committee was established by the Legislative Council in May 2011.  Click here to read Mark’s speech in response to the motion.

Myths and Facts

MYTH: Jetty and beach fishing will be banned.

FACT: Fishing will be allowed from all jetties, popular beaches and breakwaters within a marine park.

MYTH: Water sports will be banned in sanctuary zones.

FACT: You can still swim, boat, dive, or snorkel and access boat ramps in a sanctuary zone.

MYTH: Department of Environment & Natural Resources want to close 27% of our marine waters.

FACT: The sanctuary zone scenarios issued by the Government to generate community discussion left 90% of SA waters open for fishing.

MYTH: Sanctuary zones will severely damage the commercial fishing industry.

FACT: The many scientific studies on the effects of sanctuary zones show that there are significant increases in the abundance, individual sizes, diversity and overall biomass of sea life and that there is a spill-over of larvae and/or adults into unprotected areas. This is a major benefit and will contribute significantly to the long term sustainability of the fishing industry.

A University of Adelaide report by Dr Melissa Nursey-Bray published in January 2011 concluded that “Marine protected areas are proven to conserve marine life whilst providing a major boost to fisheries and other industries such as marine tourism” and that they provide “real social and economic benefits that go beyond biodiversity outcomes”.

MYTH: Marine parks have a detrimental effect on property values.

FACT: Real Estate agents are using marine parks as a marketing tool to sell properties near marine parks.

How you can make a difference 

· Contact your local state Member of Parliament. Get in touch via phone, email or snail mail and let them know that as one of their local constituents you expect them to support the establishment of world-class sanctuary zones within our Marine Parks. Click here for contact details

· Write a letter of support to Minister for Environment and Conservation, Hon Paul Caica MP, at GPO Box 1047, Adelaide SA 5001, or email

· Join The Greens! 


More Information

Dept of Environment & Natural Resources - About the Marine Parks

The Wilderness Society SA - Marine Parks campaign

South Australian Marine Conservation Alliance

Australian Marine Conservation Society

More than Fishy Business: A Literature Review of marine parks - by Dr Melissa Nursey-Bray

Conservation Bytes - by Professor Corey Bradshaw

The Australian Marine Sciences Association

SA Marine Parks Blogspot

A video by the Friends of Sceale Bay with scientists and environmentalists expressing their concerns about the future of the rarest sea lion in the world - the endangered Australian sea lion - and the need for protection via marine parks.

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