In response to a new study being launched by commercial and recreational fishing entities today about Moreton Bay, the Australian Marine Conservation Society has restated its concerns about the health of the Park and called for high levels of protection, consistent with those being called for by the Park's scientific reference panel.
Spokesperson for the society Craig Bohm said: 'An even-handed, impartial review of the marine park is already underway. Why call for another review?'
On 1 September 2008, the Marine Park (Moreton Bay) Zoning Plan 1997, expires. This year the Queensland Government engaged a panel of 12 independent, scientific experts as well as nearly 30 independent stakeholders to infuse an updated review with expert, independent advice on the biological, physical, social, cultural and economic characteristics of the marine park.
The Independent Scientific Panel for Moreton Bay Marine Park recently said that at least 10 percent of each habitat in the Park needs to be protected in high conservation "green zones" but that amounts recommended in the scientific literature fall in the range of 20% - 40%. They also said that presently less than 1% of the world�s oceans are protected in marine protected areas, and this is the same in Moreton Bay Marine Park.
Some 200 threatened turtles are found sick, injured or dead in Moreton Bay Marine Park each year. An average of 15 dugongs die within the Park in this same period. Moreton Bay has also already lost 50% of saltmarshes and a 20% of seagrasses. We need to secure a better future for this special place.
Queensland has the highest boat ownership in Australia and a booming population. The rezoning of Moreton Bay is an opportunity to secure our wildlife, our fish stocks and our lifestyle.
"Conservationists support any positive contribution to the rezoning process as long as it helps us secure the high levels of protection our Park and its wildlife desperately needs," Bohm concluded.
According to the EPA, fishing and collecting are not permitted in green zones but snorkeling, boating, swimming and scuba diving are.
Craig Bohm, Australian Marine Conservation Society - 0427 133 481
Moreton Bay Marine Park Zoning Plan Review
Scientific Guiding Principles Recommended by the Expert Advisory Panel (extract)
Amount of protection required
There are no hard and fast rules to determine the extent of protection required to conserve marine biodiversity and ensure long-term sustainability. Each region must be examined on its own merits and decisions made that take into account the unique aspects of its oceanography, geography, history, flora and fauna, as well as present and future socio-economic factors.
The International Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has recommended 10% of each country�s ecological regions (i.e. habitat types) be conserved in marine protected areas. Amounts recommended in the scientific literature generally fall in the range of 20% - 40% of the ocean�s environment in no-take areas1. Presently less than 1% of the world�s oceans are protected in marine protected areas.
Biodiversity conservation and the current zoning plan
The Expert Advisory Panel believes the current level of no-take areas in Moreton Bay Marine Park does not provide suitable protection for the biodiversity values of the area because: