Media Release: Preserving our marine wealth

Analysis Finds Marine Parks Protect $2bn per year in Economic Value

The recently expanded national network of marine parks has been valued at providing more than $2 billion in ecosystem services – the previously unrecognised benefits Australians receive from the marine environment, a new report has found.

The report by the Centre for Policy Development (CPD) also found the government’s landmark announcement of the world’s largest network of marine reserves will help to secure Australia’s marine economy and the long term productivity of our oceans.

The CPD analysis, Preserving Our Marine Wealth, also assessed the impact of the marine parks decision on the fishing industry and found they will deliver long- term benefits for recreational fishers and commercial fishers using more sustainable practices.

CPD calculated the economic value provided by four key categories of the marine environment: coral reefs, seagrasses, coastal shelf and open ocean. Each of these areas provides services of value such as nurseries for fish and carbon storage.

The new report builds on CPD’s 2011 analysis, Stocking Up: securing Australia’s marine economy , analysis, which found that Australia’s oceans provide at least $25 billion in value every year in ‘ecosystem services’ which are currently uncounted in national statistics.

The expanded network of marine reserves covers 36% of Australia’s marine territory, with the fully protected marine parks (sanctuary areas) covering only 13% of the total. The environmental benefits protected by new marine parks have been valued at $1.2 billion per year.

In the remaining 23% allow recreational fishing and some kinds of commercial fishing are allowed, varying by zoning. Most of the marine reserves network restricts only the most damaging forms of fishing including bottom trawling, which is likely to deliver long-term benefits for responsible fishing, the report found.

“Studies show that marine parks in particular provide long-term benefits to both commercial and recreational fishers. These fully-protected zones result in larger fish and more biodiversity – they act as restocking areas for the surrounding waters, and make fish stocks more resilient in the face of environmental shocks.” CPD fellow and former World Bank economist Caroline Hoisington said.

The Federal Government’s Regulatory Impact Statement has estimated that only $11 million of fishing activity per year would be impacted through the establishment of the new marine reserves network. The amount of compensation flagged by Environment Minister Tony Burke is $100 million.

Preserving Our Marine Wealth finds that compensation would best be implemented to ease rather than displace long-term pressures on fish stocks and the profitability of the fishing industry,” Ms Hoisington said.

 “Australia can be very proud of taking such a strong step to protect its marine resources.”

Notes to Editors:

  • The Centre for Policy Development is a public interest research centre dedicated to putting creative, viable ideas and innovative research at the heart of Australia’s policy debates. We give a diverse community of thinkers space to imagine solutions to Australia’s most urgent challenges.
  • Caroline Hoisington is CPD’s Marine Economy Fellow, and was the co-author of CPD’s major 2011 report on the future of Australia’s marine economy. She is an agricultural and natural resources economist. She is the author of Rough trade: How Australia’s trade policies contribute to illegal logging in the Pacific Region and co-editor of the book Food Policy published by Johns Hopkins University Press for the World Bank. She is an honorary fellow at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), and a visiting fellow at Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences (SIMS). Caroline has worked as a senior natural resources economist and policy analyst in various development agencies across the US, Europe, Asia and Africa including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, bilateral aid agencies like USAID, UN Agencies, the EU, NGOs and consulting firms. She writes on a range of policy areas including trade policy, environmental management, carbon trading and food policy.
  • Stocking Up: securing our marine economy was the ground-breaking first report from CPD’s Sustainable Economy program. The report revealed that $25 billion per year in value is missing from our official accounts of the marine economy. Australian oceans contribute at least this much to the national economy in ecosystem services such as carbon storage, fish nursery services and recreational fishing – free of charge.