Victoria’s network of marine national parks and sanctuaries dots the coastline from Portland in the far southwest to picturesque Mallacoota near the border with NSW.
The network is made up of 13 marine national parks and 11 smaller sanctuaries, covering 5.3% of Victoria’s marine waters.
All marine plants and animals in the network are protected from extractive industries such as fishing and oil and gas exploration, creating an ‘insurance policy’ against environmental impacts.
Victoria’s network of marine national parks protects some our most iconic and charismatic species: weedy sea dragon, eastern blue devilfish, southern fiddler ray and eastern blue groper.
Leading scientists from around the world agree that establishing marine national parks is the best way for marine ecosystems to survive and thrive. But Victoria’s current network falls short of the long-term marine protection needed.
A team of marine experts has identified where our marine environment desperately needs greater protection. Their analysis considered critical habitats, values and threats in our marine waters and recommended new parks and the expansion of some existing ones.
They identified 20 marine conservation priority areas that should be protected as part of the marine national parks network. The areas included Bridgewater Bay, Deen Maar (Lady Julia Percy Island), Cape Otway, Point Lillias to Kirk Point, Crawfish Rock, Anderson Inlet, the Gippsland Lakes and Gabo Island.
Marine national parks and sanctuaries can:
- help marine life withstand climate change impacts by reducing stressors
- protect and improve habitat and species diversity
- protect rare species and populations
- protect habits from damaging industries such as oil exploration and extraction, aquaculture and fishing
- create opportunities for education, research and tourism
- provide scientific reference areas as benchmarks
- help achieve sustainable fisheries
- store large amounts of carbon, especially in saltmarshes, seagrass meadows and mangroves.
The 2014 World Parks Congress held in Sydney agreed that at least 30% of the marine environment should be included in areas that are highly protected i.e. no removal of marine life or marine resources.
In Victoria, just 5.3% of our waters are given that protection (in Port Phillip Bay it’s less t6hna 1%. Establishing the marine national parks network in 2002 was a remarkable achievement, but we now have a lot more work to do.
In the lead-up to the November 2018 state election, VNPA will be calling on all parties to support the expansion of Victoria’s marine national parks network. We will need your help, so please sign up to our email conservation updates for the latest news.