When Ian Kiernan AO sailed solo around the world in 1986/87, he was horrified to see the fabled Sargasso Sea was in fact a fading legend carpeted by rubbish .
This drove him to work to protect our unique marine environments and inspired him to form Clean Up Australia.
The protection of our oceans is the new frontier for conservation, as they continue to be at risk with just five percent of the 16.5km2 of seas surrounding Australia protected under law.
The threats to our marine life and habitats include:
It is important for Australia to fulfill its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, by managing our waters in such a way that conservation is prioritized as well as economic gains.
As an example, the South West Australian marine region has a greater biodiversity than the Great Barrier Reef. However only 1% of the South West region is protected - despite its unique species and environments.
There are numerous economic and social benefits protection and informed management offers Australia’s marine based industries of the future – medical breakthroughs from the pharmacopeia that our oceans hold, new eco-tourism ventures that underpin the economic security of our coastal communities, and a truly sustainable fishing industry.
The establishment of sanctuaries in marine parks by federal and state governments will protect feeding and breeding areas previously vulnerable to over-fishing.
Clean Up believes it is not a case of there being a choice between protecting the marine environment and jobs or local industries. They are interlinked and a network of marine sanctuaries would ensure our oceans remain healthy and keep fish on our plates.