Plans are in place to transform nearly a million square kilometres of the Coral Sea into a marine park.
Plans are in place to transform nearly a million square kilometres of the Coral Sea into a marine park.

New research supports Marine Park Network policy

THE new national marine park network will be an insurance policy against ecosystem failure in Australia's oceans, a paper from the Centre for Policy Development shows.

Australia is getting closer to fully operational marine parks all around the nation's coast, after management plans for the parks were released last week.

The CPD paper examines the economic, environmental and social effects of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, as a case study for the possible benefits of the new marine park network.

It found the world's oceans were facing increasing risks, but that marine protected areas could insure against such risks, as well as provide economic benefits for the country.

Former World Bank economist, report author Caroline Hoisington, said if Australia paid the "relatively low premiums" of marine protection, stronger marine environments would create economic benefits.

Ms Hoisington wrote that "the most important thing right now is to put in place sufficient funding and smart management plans to ensure Australia benefits economically from marine protection".

"Just as insurance premiums are far smaller than the value covered, the annual costs of running the Great Barrier Reef Park, for example, are less than 2% of what it contributes to Australia's economy," she wrote.

The report found despite the pressures on Australia's oceans and reef, commercial and recreational fishers and coastal communities could benefit from improved fish stocks, more stable fishing industries and growing marine tourism.

Ms Hoisington wrote the $211 million fishing industry compensation payment for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was less than 10% of the overall economic contribution of the reef in a given year.

She wrote in 2009, the economic contribution of the reef to the national economy totalled $2.8 billion, with more than 26,700 jobs in tourism, among other industries.



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