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The Australian government has decided to create two new massive protected marine areas and they covers a surface twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef marine park. Conservation groups all over the world welcomed the decision.
These two new parks will be based around the Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian ocean, northwest of Australia. Together, the new marine parks cover 740 000 square kilometers (286 000 square miles) of the ocean. Michelle Grady, Director of The Pew Charitable Trusts, said in a statement:
“Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are uniquely Australian and globally significant – there’s nowhere like them on Earth. Most famous for its annual red crab migration, Christmas Island was referred to as one of the 10 natural wonders of the world by David Attenborough himself. Its thriving rainforests, deserted beaches and fringing reef provide a haven for unique and rare seabirds, land crabs and marine life.”
Darren Kindleysides, CEO of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, added in a statement:
“Christmas and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are recognised as globally significant standout natural wonders. Oceans across the globe are in deep trouble from pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and the very real and immediate impacts of climate change. Establishing marine parks to provide a safe haven for our marine life is critical in helping stop our oceans reaching a tipping point.”
Many people applauded Australia's decision to protect the marine environment. One of them is Christabel Mitchell, Director of the Save Our Marine Life Alliance. She also urged the Australian Government to collaborate with local communities in order to “co-design” the protected areas. In a statement Mitchell explained that “healthy oceans and sustainable fishing are central to the Christmas and Cocos islanders.”
“Creating world-class marine parks for this region will provide crucial protection for a wealth of marine life, make a significant global contribution to the health of our oceans and support the local communities’ culture and aspirations,” said Mitchell. “We look forward to working with the government and the island communities to preserve this unique part of Australia, for our marine life and future generations.”
Before the parks were established the percentage of Australian waters under protection was 37%. The new parks bring the percentage up to 45%.
All around the world, conservation groups are pushing for the protection of 30% of global oceans and land mass by 2030 - these parks are a terrific success in that journey, protecting both biodiversity and nature on the islands and in the water.