Science has revealed that Australia’s national marine research agency, the Australian Marine Park Authority, is now working on a plan to stop the “dangers” posed by plastic pollution.
More than two dozen scientists and researchers have called on the federal government to protect Australia’s marine life and to stop using the phrase “eco-fishing”.
The new plan, announced last month, would include a moratorium on plastic and other waste being dumped on the reef, as well as a ban on all fishing within 50 metres of the Great Barrier Reef.
The marine park authority has already published a detailed draft of the proposal on its website, with the proposed ban being set to come into effect on January 1, 2019.
But it is not clear when the ban will be implemented, with scientists warning that it could take a “long time” for the ban to be fully implemented.
The plan is expected to include measures to limit plastic in the water, such as using plastic-free polyethylene bags to store fish and shells, as part of a new marine recycling scheme.
The scientists said the ban was also unlikely to stop plastic pollution from floating into the ocean, since the ocean is covered with many types of plastic, including “sustainable” plastic bags.
The proposal also said that the ban would not stop the use of plastic in “eco fishing” operations, and that there was no evidence that marine fish in the Great Barra are being harmed by fishing, despite a ban in place in the state.
“In the past 10 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of fish caught by non-target fish such as mackerel, herring, swordfish, mackerell, mahi mahi, sardines, sargassum and bluefish in the South Australian and Northern Territory,” the draft proposal states.
But the draft does not mention the Great Australian Beryl reef, despite its name. “
This draft proposal aims to make a difference by helping to protect the Great Marine Park as a whole and its marine ecosystems, while helping to reduce the number and diversity of non-toxic plastics that are being used in the Australian marine ecosystem.”
But the draft does not mention the Great Australian Beryl reef, despite its name.
And a spokeswoman for the Great Northern Reef Marine Park said the reef had been protected since it was established in the 1960s, but that the authority would be implementing the plan if the ban goes into effect.
The spokeswoman said the plan was “a great start, but we need to continue to work on our environmental plan, including the implementation of our long-term plan”.
The plan also includes a ban against the use and distribution of “sinkable plastic” – plastic bags that are designed to be easily discarded – and a ban for fishing within 100 metres of a marine reserve.
The National Marine Park Association (NMPA) has also called for the plan to be implemented immediately, saying that “all plastic pollution and waste is a danger to our marine life, our wildlife and the communities we serve”.
A recent study from the Australian National University found that there were approximately 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste floating in the waters of Australia’s Great Barrier and Coral Reef Marine Reserve.
Plastic has been found to cause serious health problems for marine animals and has been linked to the development of a range of cancers.
In July, the government announced a $200 million fund to fund a range to tackle the problem.