Networks of fully protected marine national parks, complimented by other efforts such as sustainable fisheries management, have been recognised as central to protecting marine biodiversity and sustaining resilient marine ecosystems.

Marine national parks (also known as marine protected areas, sanctuaries or marine reserves) are ‘an area of ocean that is fully protected from activities that remove animals and plants and alter habitats, except as needed for scientific monitoring’.

Australia is a signatory to the international agreement of the Convention on Biological Diversity to protect at least 10% of each marine region in a comprehensive, representative and effectively managed network of protected areas by 2012. This is represented in our commitment to establish a National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas in 10% of each marine region by 2012. And in Tasmania, we are committed to our Tasmanian Marine Protected Areas Strategy, ‘to establish and manage a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of marine protected areas, to contribute to the long-term ecological viability of marine and estuarine systems, to maintain ecological processes and systems, and to protect Tasmania’s biological diversity.’

  • They provide important scientific reference areas to study the impacts of fishing and climate change
  • They act as a recovery zone, through restoration of heavily impacted species and community structure
  • They allow many species to grow longer and larger, which means that they can contribute more offspring to the environment
  • They help deter invasive species, such as urchins, which can degrade natural habitat and impact on health of the whole ecosystem
  • They protect biodiversity and restore ecosystem health enabling essential natural services to be maintained, such as seafood production, pollutant breakdown, nutrient cycling, coastal protection, control of pests, regulation of temperature and climatic systems.

The ability of a marine ecosystem to withstand impacts from pressures — such as introduced pests, warming waters, damaging one-off storm events — is substantially increased when they are fully protected in a marine national park, simply because the ecosystems are healthier and stronger.Networks of Marine National Parks provide some respite for the many species that travel long distances and live in various habitats throughout their life cycles. They can also provide insurance against one-off catastrophes that harm populations or habitats in one reserve, but not another.

Marine National Parks also act as playgrounds for us to enjoy through swimming, diving, kayaking and surfing. They are great, big, blue classrooms for discovery and learning, and when properly managed they are fantastic business opportunities for local communities to foster.

Marine National Parks are a critical part of caring for our oceans and establishing them is simple common sense.

For more information read through our fact sheets.