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Establishing representative no-take areas over 1/3 of the Great Barrier Reef: large-scale implementation of Marine Protected Area theory with lessons for global application

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 20:16 authored by Fernandes, L, Day, J, Lewis, A, Slegers, S, Kerrigan, B, Breen, D, Cameron, D, Jago, B, Hall, J, Lowe, D, Innes, J, Tanzer, J, Chadwick, V, Thompson, L, Gorman, K, Simmons, M, Barnett, B, Sampson, K, De'ath, G, Mapstone, BD, Marsh, H, Possingham, H, Ball, I, Ward, T, Dobbs, K, Aumend, J, Slater, D, Stapleton, K
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, an area almost the size of Japan, has a new network of no-take areas that significantly improves the protection of biodiversity. The new marine park zoning implements, in a quantitative manner, many of the theoretical design principles discussed in the literature. For example, the new network of no-take areas has at least 20% protection per "bioregion," minimum levels of protection for all known habitats and special or unique features, and minimum sizes for no-take areas of at least 10 or 20 km across at the smallest diameter. Overall, more than 33% of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is now in no-take areas (previously 4.5%). The steps taken leading to this outcome were to clarify to the interested public why the existing level of protection was inadequate; detail the conservation objectives of establishing new no-take areas; work with relevant and independent experts to define, and contribute to, the best scientific process to deliver on the objectives; describe the biodiversity (e.g., map bioregions); define operational principles needed to achieve the objectives; invite community input on all of the above; gather and layer the data gathered in round-table discussions; report the degree of achievement of principles for various options of no-take areas; and determine how to address negative impacts. Some of the key success factors in this case have global relevance and include focusing initial communication on the problem to be addressed; applying the precautionary principle; using independent experts; facilitating input to decision making; conducting extensive and participatory consultation; having an existing marine park that encompassed much of the ecosystem; having legislative power under federal law; developing high-level support; ensuring agency priority and ownership; and being able to address the issue of displaced fishers. ©2005 Society for Conservation Biology.


Publication title

Conservation Biology










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Blackwell Publishing Inc

Place of publication

United States

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other environmental management not elsewhere classified

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