Australia's Galapagos officially proclaimed and protected

The Morrison Government is delivering on its commitment to protect and preserve Australia’s oceans, establishing two new marine parks at Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean, home to life found nowhere else on earth.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the spectacular seascapes cover 744,000 square kilometres, an area greater in size than the Great Barrier Reef.

“This announcement represents a globally significant contribution to marine conservation and a further demonstration of Australia’s leadership in ocean protection,” Minister Ley said.

“The region, which is often described as Australia’s Galapagos Islands, supports unique underwater reefs and rare aquatic species which act as a natural laboratory, helping us to understand more about the evolution of the oceans.

“Today’s announcement is a strong reminder of the need to protect our oceans, as these two marine parks join a network of 60 Commonwealth marine parks around Australia, spanning more than 4 million square kilometres – a staggering 45 per cent of Australia’s waters.”

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino said community consultation was at the centre of the zoning of the new parks.

“The marine parks were co-designed with the local community to ensure that they help maintain their sustainable local food source and way of life, and ensure the parks are a key driver of the local, nature-based tourism industry,” Assistant Minister Marino said.

“The offshore parts of these parks – some 99 percent of their area – will be placed under the highest level of protection, while the inshore areas important to island communities will continue to enable sustainable fishing to occur.”

Through the Morrison Government’s Oceans Leadership Package, an initial $5.4 million has been allocated to manage the marine parks.

The package includes $2.2 million for a grants program to support projects specific to the Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Island marine environments, with the other funding to be used for management activities that will enhance the protection and understanding of the region.

Applications for the $2.2 million Indian Ocean Territories Marine Parks Grants program will open on March 28.

Organisations and groups can apply for grants across two funding categories to support projects between $10,000 to $50,000 and between $50,001 to $500,000.

For more information and to apply, visit the Community Grants Hub.

For information about the new Australian Marine Parks visit https://parksaustralia.gov.au/marine/iot/.

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