How can we get the maximum from the marine reserves. The review concentrates on zones which exclude recreational fishers, and if those fishers could be permitted back in.
But, fishing is not the sole threat to marine life: petroleum and gas developments additionally affect overseas waters. Separating marine protected areas and areas with gas and oil potential contributes to an unrepresentative reservation system. But working with gas and oil firms could work out equally for business and our sea.
Like Water And Oil
It’s very difficult in areas that encourage both significant biodiversity values and business assets like gas and oil sources and significant recreational and commercial fisheries.
Though the present management review will concentrate on fishing, a very distinct barrier is present in Australia’s northwest sea region. At a time of transition, after a decade-long mining boom, the government is trying to increase accessibility to the country’s gas and oil resources.
Together with nearly all (92 percent) of Australia’s traditional gas sources situated in Australia’s shore, finding the ideal balance between biodiversity conservation and business interests is challenging and possibly costly.
Actually, disasters have occurred. In 2009, this area experienced the worst foreign petroleum spill in Australia’s history. The blowout in PTTEP’s Montara wellhead, situated 250km from the Kimberley coast, led to 10 months of constant release of gas and oil to the Timor Sea.
In general the oil spill has been estimated to cover a place of 90,000 square kilometres. We heard two main lessons from the spill. To begin with, the danger of an oil spill has been realised and among the most pristine and ecologically diverse marine environments was set at danger of irreversible harm.
Secondly, it highlighted what we do not understand. We lack the environmental data for the area to have the ability to recognize and manage the consequences of an oil spill.
Protect Hidden Reefs And Biodiversity Hotspots
Following the spill, scientists hurried to begin filling the gaps in what we understand. While we lacked preexisting environmental data, there was little proof of a significant effect from the oil spill. To enhance this process later on we finally have some baseline monitoring websites set up.
Additionally, we’ve got a new regulator centered on the execution of more rigorous oil spill response strategies and risk management processes and individual businesses have needed to updated their answer and management strategies.
One significant breakthrough was the abundant coral reef communities of their underwater banks and shoals. But because these submerged mounds stride under the sea surface they’ve previously gone undetected, concealed beneath the waves.
Intensive post-spill surveys demonstrated the shoals to encourage fish diversity greater that seen on similar attributes inside the Great Barrier Reef. They’re also positioned to behave as important stepping stone to get biological connectivity throughout Australia’s north west and can function as a significant refuge for species vulnerable to climate change.
But, the present national marine reservations system provides virtually no protection for these regions (less than 2% drop over the no take marine reserves).
The Largest Marine Park Network In The World
The preceding government aimed to make the world’s biggest marine park community. With the present network dropping just shy of 30 percent of Australia’s territorial waters, they came really near.
Though, as Bob Pressey detailed in his post about Australia’s marine protected areas, size is not everything. The workshop comprised universities, industry and government.
Throughout the workshop we analyzed exactly how representative that the marine parks of the area really are. With little data on biodiversity, we utilized the proxy of undersea geomorphology.
What we discovered is that of 19 distinct environmental communities, just four are satisfactorily represented, two are over-represented, seven are under-represented and six are not represented in any way.
In spite of this, the majority (75 percent) of the suggested no take areas concentrates on the abyssal plain 3000-6000 metres under the surface. Protecting biodiversity into the north west of Australia includes significant opportunity costs to the petroleum and gas business and industrial fishers.
A Way Forward
Using a book system struggling to become agent, there are very real issues related to making any modifications outside a strong conservation planning procedure. Presently the national government proposes to keep the outer borders of the marine parks community, while shifting zoning inside the reservations to permit commercial and recreational fishers access.
However, without shutting alternative places, this is only going to undermine our limited capability to handle threatening processes and save biodiversity. Analyzing a little portion of the issue will only ever supply a tiny portion of this solution.
In the workshop in WA, we attempted to think of a better alternative. We looked in a means to increase representativeness, while minimising costs to consumer groups employing an innovative systematic conservation planning strategy.
Preliminary investigations demonstrated that completely excluding entire regions prospective for gas and oil reserves makes a system of marine protected areas unrepresentative whilst such as these areas makes a book system extremely costly.
One cheap alternative can be found to this area by attracting business users to the management process and agreeing that potential areas for gas and oil extraction aren’t incompatible with marine biodiversity conservation.
Petroleum and gas developments frequently have rigorous biodiversity protection goals and with individuals present on many websites all of the time, authorities of adjoining no take areas is possibly far less costly.
The chance for the gas and oil sector to be actively engaged in the protection of marine biodiversity might be a method of offering currently unrepresented marine ecosystems a certain amount of security also. Generally the business’s infrastructure footprint is rather small.
Major oil imports from mining and manufacturing activities globally are comparatively rare with only one happening on the west shore of Australia. While the threat is low, the results can be quite high. Therefore implementing multiple secure areas is a method of’hedging our bets.
In an area tremendously valuable to business the prices of biodiversity protection will probably be higher if we continue to determine gas and oil interests as incompatible with conservation. But leaving these special ecosystems without protection and management may cost us more in the long run.