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Critical protection sought for Australia’s big blue backyard

February 23, 2009 09:00 AM - WWF

Perth, Australia - Nine out of 10 marine species found off Australia’s south-west coast are found nowhere else on earth but less than one per cent of this globally significant region is protected.

A new report found a series of globally significant “hotspots” for marine life in the region, home to a far greater proportion of unique marine life than the Great Barrier Reef, and recommends the creation of large sanctuaries to secure its future.

Protecting Western Australia’s big blue backyard was prepared by the Australian Conservation Foundation for a new collaboration of key Australian and international conservation groups formed to secure the future of Australia’s south-west marine environment.

WWF-Australia is a key member of “Save our Marine Life”, which also includes the Conservation Council of Western Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Wilderness Society, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the Nature Conservancy and the Pew Environment Group.

The report highlighted Perth Canyon, one of only two known sites in Australian waters where the endangered blue whale comes to feed, and the Diamantina Fracture Zone, Australia’s largest mountain range submerged in its deepest stretch of water at 7,400 metres and thought to host unique species not yet known to science. The report also identified the importance of creating large marine sanctuaries to Western Australia's tourism and whale watching industry.

At the launch in Perth today Professor Jessica Meeuwig of the Centre for Marine Futures at the University of Western Australia said: “Many economically important marine species, such as rock lobster, dhufish and baldchin groper are under threat.

“Large marine sanctuaries are critical to maintaining the health of the marine environment, helping fish stocks recover and securing the future of commercial and recreational fishing in the region.”




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