Only a small fraction (3%) of the world’s oceans are contained within marine parks; far below what leading marine scientists recommend (30%). Of the marine parks that have been established internationally, only a small portion are achieving their management objectives; and internationally, the majority are open to fishing. Marine parks should provide a safe haven for fish, endangered species and their habitats. While marine parks are primarily designed to enhance biodiversity, they can also complement fisheries management actions and enhance other economic activity such as tourism.
Sydney in one of only two regions in NSW not covered by a marine park. A 2009 government report found that this was a key gap in NSW’s system of marine protection and management.
However, in 2014 the NSW Government announced a study to decide how to zone Sydney’s marine environment including our famous harbour could be protected against the pressures of population, pollution and fishing. Unique among urbanised harbours in the world, the harbour’s variety of underwater life is a mix of fortunate geography, careful husbandry of the waterways and improved environmental practices.
"People think that Sydney Harbour is this barren, industrialised estuary" says Luke Hedge of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. "In fact, we have almost 308 species of worms, 118 species of sea urchins, 1375 molluscs, 670 crustacean species and about the same number of fish species - around 580 - that are found on the entire coast of the UK, so it's a hugely diverse environment."
Adequate sanctuary zones provide marine life in the park with an area that is left untouched and allows them to breed freely without external interference. Sanctuary zones also provide areas for education and research, and are important areas against which to benchmark the environmental health of other marine areas. Management plans for each park contain detailed maps of sanctuary zone locations. You can find management plans on each individual marine park web page. About 6 per cent of South Australian waters have been designated as sanctuary zones, leaving 94 percent of the sea still available for fishing.
Source: Kelsey Munro
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National Parks Association of NSW is a non-government conservation group that seeks to protect, connect and restore the integrity and diversity of natural systems in NSW and beyond, through national parks, marine sanctuaries and other means.