Get behind a bold vision to keep Australia’s oceans wild!
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I have travelled to six continents to put together a documentary about the birth of the global movement to protect the sea called The Map to Paradise.
I have witnessed first-hand the growing groundswell of support for the ocean.
I feel that now is the time for Australia to jump onto that wave of change to restore our beautiful underwater paradise and to keep its oceans wild. Australia is home to one of the largest ocean territories in the world, so it has a huge role to play in the movement to protect the sea.
Around the world, leaders are taking bold steps to protect the sea. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has banned all future mining permits in the sea, while Tommy Remengesau has protected 80 per cent of Palau’s waters and the United Kingdom has just committed to protecting 50 per cent of its waters.
On the other hand, Australia is failing to care for the sea.
Four major examples include:
- Australia’s fish stocks that we eat declined by a third between 2005 and 2015 in areas open to fishing. (Globally, fish stocks we eat are set to collapse by 2050).
- Australia has undergone some of the largest removal of conservation areas on the planet after protections were stripped away in the Commonwealth marine park, following a practice that began in New South Wales.
- Due to the unprecedented loss of corals on the Great Barrier Reef as a consequence of climate change in 2016 and 2017, scientists have found that the number of new corals settling on the Great Barrier Reef declined by a staggering 89 per cent. As Professor Terry Hughes says, “Dead corals don’t make babies.”
- Oil drilling is about to begin in the Bight off South Australia - an oil spill could potentially reach Victoria and up to the mid-north coast of New South Wales! The issue is that exploration and mining technology have become so advanced that it is becoming easier to exploit our beautiful ocean globally. It is a phenomenon that will only grow, if we don't plan for the future now. Australia already has over 2,000 wells, around 30 platforms and thousands of kilometres of pipeline in the sea in national waters, according to ABC News. Most people in New South Wales don't even realise that there is a permit to do seismic testing off the coast from Port Stephens to Sydney.
So, what can we do?
We can start sharing this information among our communities and start a conversation about the kind of future we want for our oceans globally.
I was present at the IUCN World Conservation Congress when the global scientific community came together to announce the call to protect 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030.
Australia is far away from reaching this target: overall, only 9.16 per cent of Australia’s marine reserves have the necessary (that is, the highest) level of protection, according to the Marine Atlas.
I am not saying that Australia’s goal should be 30 per cent of highly protected zones in the sea. Other global leaders are clearly aiming for targets much higher than this, and Australia’s marine scientists may have different opinions again.
I want this petition to be about the distribution of ideas and knowledge to stimulate local debate and develop vision about how to restore our underwater paradise.
Just remember that Australians successfully united to protect the Great Barrier Reef against limestone mining back in the 1960s and 1970s, creating one of the largest marine parks in the world at the time. We have the power to do it again, if we get behind a truly bold vision for the future of our seas, not just in Australia but in international waters too.
So, I’ve created a ‘Wishlist’ for you to distribute and workshop with your community and friends as a starting point for a robust national discussion.
Wishlist for a bolder vision to protect our oceans:
- Implement an Oceans Act for Australia which would see more robust management of our oceans from a national level, taking a more holistic approach addressing issues, such as plastics, water quality, mining and exploration, biodiversity decline, climate change, and fishing.
- Ban all future mining and exploration permits in the sea in Australia, extending to a ban on Australian mining and exploration companies operating in Antarctica - and possibly even the high seas (see below).
- Call for a Royal Commission into current mining and exploration permits which threaten the future of our fragile underwater paradise.
- Call on our leaders to commit to a high seas treaty that would protect 30 per cent of the high seas by 2030.
The Map to Paradise - A documentary about the birth of the global movement to protect the sea. Executive Producer Hollywood Actor Martin Sheen.
DOCUMENTS TO DISTRIBUTE & SHARE WITHIN YOUR COMMUNITY:
CASE FOR AN OCEANS ACT IN AUSTRALIA
The Environmental Defenders Office has already detailed what an Oceans Act might look like - https://www.edonsw.org.au/case_for_an_oceans_act
BLUE PRINT FOR PROTECTING THE HIGH SEAS
Experts have already created a plan to do this, so let’s get behind this target - https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/21604/30x30-a-blueprint-for-ocean-protection/
NOMINATE A HOPE SPOT
If you live by a special patch of ocean which you think should be protected as a Hope Spot, find out more at Mission Blue - https://mission-blue.org/hope-spots/
UNITED NATIONS OCEANS - VOLUNTARY COMMITMENTS FROM NATIONS
Countries around the world have been making voluntary commitments to protect the sea. Take and look and get inspired - https://oceanconference.un.org/
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