Aussies to create world’s largest marine park

Sydney - Australian wants to create a marine park covering 900,000 square kilometres of the Coral Sea, including the Great Barrier Reef.

The Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve would be the world's largest marine park, Environment Minister Tony Burke said on Friday when releasing the blueprint for an area free from oil and gas exploration.

A period of intense, natural changes in climate caused coral reefs in the eastern Pacific to shut down thousands of years ago, and human-induced pollution could worsen the trend in the future, scientists said. Credit: AP

The area is within Australia's disputed exclusive economic zone and extends from 60 kilometres from the coast to 1,100 kilometres at its widest point.

Recreational and charter fishing would be legal in the narrow coastal corridor but not in the reserve itself.

Burke said the Coral Sea needed protection from overfishing.

“Australia has a unique opportunity to protect this precious marine environment for future generations,” he said.

The government is to hold three months of discussions on the proposal before it goes for a vote in Parliament.

Japan is among the countries disputing Australia's exclusive economic zone, carrying out whaling in parts of it in the Antarctic, which Australia criticises. - Sapa-dpa