|THURSDAY, 14 JUNE 2012 09:28|
Oil and gas exploration, as well as fishing, will be banned in massive areas off Western Australia under one of the most ambitious conservation measures to be undertaken by the Federal Government.
The Gillard Government has taken the extraordinary step of banning fishing and oil and gas exploration off virtually all the Margaret River coastline. In Western Australia, more than 20 areas from the Kimberley to the south coast will be declared marine sanctuary or "no-take" zones in which all forms of fishing and oil and gas drilling are forbidden.
Environment Minister Tony Burke will today announce the final boundaries for a vast network of marine parks stretching around Australia in Commonwealth waters three to 200 nautical miles (5.5-370km) offshore.
Touting the move as a seminal environmental achievement, Mr Burke said it would ensure marine parks covered more than a third of Australia's waters, or about 3.1 million square kilometres.
Nationwide, enormous areas of ocean will be set aside for conservation, including much of the Coral Sea.
The announcement comes on top of recent moves by the Barnett Government to set up a series of marine reserves in waters between the coast and three nautical miles offshore.
In March, the State Government announced it had created the Ngari Capes Marine Park in the South West, while plans for a reserve at Camden Sound in the Kimberley were realised weeks later.
Mr Burke said the marine parks would enshrine the same level of protection for Australia's oceans as existed on land.