World Oceans Day is an opportunity to remember that the oceans are the lungs of our planet and they sustain biodiversity that is essential to life on earth.
It also serves as an important reminder that the Morrison Government is not doing enough to protect our oceans from plastic pollution, poor fishing practices and climate change.
Despite lecturing his international counterparts on the importance of marine protection, neither the Prime Minister nor his Environment Minister have been able to produce a plan that will deliver on their so-called vision.
The Coalition Government began by cutting Labor’s national marine network, and its threatened species strategy failed to include a single marine species.
Like our ecosystems on land, our marine environment has suffered significant harm and is under enormous pressure. The direct effect of climate change has been profound for our oceans, which have absorbed more than 90 per cent of the additional heat caused by human activity. Now the oceans have reached their limit.
The impacts are far and wide – from three major Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching events in the past five years to heatwaves wiping out great submarine fields of seagrass and kelp in Western Australia and Tasmania.
Australia’s only endemic species of sea lion has suffered a 60 per cent population decrease over the past few decades and is now endangered.
But all the pressures—climate change, ocean plastic, harmful fishing practices—have been neglected by this Liberal government.
This Liberals’ record on ocean vandalism makes for bleak reading:
This Government has weakened ocean protection, failed to improve the position of endangered marine species, squibbed the opportunity to reform the EPBC Act, refused to take climate change seriously and been complacent about the waste crisis that sees tonnes of plastic going into our waterways and, ultimately, the sea.