BY: Michelle Liew
Australia recently announced a $100 million (approximately RM322 million) investment for ocean conservation in its latest effort to protect ‘blue carbon’ environments and reduce emissions.
As the world’s only island continent, marine life conservation is significant to Australia and the investment package will support Australian Marine Parks, expand the Indigenous Protected Areas in the Sea Country and protection of marine species.
The funding will mainly go towards ecosystems that involve seagrass and mangroves, which play a big role in drawing carbon out of the atmosphere.
In a press statement Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the nation’s ocean economy not only supported 400,000 jobs but was also projected to contribute $100 billion each year. It would also be key to Australia’s role in driving down emissions.
“Our oceans are part of the lifeblood of our economy and this investment will secure those jobs and the important role our oceans can play in our efforts to cut emissions.
“The climate and the planet’s oceans are inextricably linked. This investment is a major contribution to domestic and international efforts to build healthier oceans and combat climate change.
“Our oceans are part of our national identity and critical to the daily lives of millions of Australians. Around 85 per cent of our population lives within 50 kilometres of the coast so every Australian understands the vital role our oceans play.
“This investment will boost the seagrass and mangroves that will help cut emissions and it’ll mean cleaner beaches, lower fisheries bycatch, more fish stocks, better protection for turtles and seabirds, and help for coastal and Indigenous communities reliant on the ocean for their livelihoods,” he said.
$39.9 million will go towards reinforcing Australia’s position as a world leader in marine park management which includes:
- $19.4 million to be delivered through two additional rounds of the successful Our Marine Parks Grants program which will create opportunities for industry, community organisations and Indigenous communities to further engage and connect with the management of Australian Marine Parks.
- $15 million towards ocean discovery and restoration projects to help us understand more about our marine parks.
- $5.4 million for steps to support the health and sustainability of the pristine waters around Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories.
$11.6 million will be delivered over two years to incorporate Sea Country in Indigenous Protected Areas in nine locations, to provide Indigenous communities with economic and employment opportunities.
$30.6 million will be invested in practical action to restore and account for blue carbon ecosystems. This will improve the health of coastal environments in Australia and around the region and export Australia’s internationally recognized expertise in ocean accounting, while boosting regional employment and enabling us to account for the value of these habitats as blue carbon repositories
- Almost $19 million will go to four major on-ground projects restoring coastal ecosystems across the country, including tidal marshes, mangroves and seagrasses
- $10 million will provide three major on-ground projects to assist developing countries in the region restore and protect their blue carbon ecosystems
- Over $1 million will help to solidify Australia as a leader in ocean and natural capital accounting assistance – this enables us to understand and account for the environmental and economic benefits of protecting these critical ecosystems.
$18 million will target practical actions to protect iconic marine species, improve the sustainability of our fisheries through reducing bycatch and stimulate investment in our oceans
- $10 million will deliver ocean health through at least 25 targeted projects to restore and protect threatened marine species, eradicate invasive species from our islands and restore coastal habitats.
- $5 million will fund new and innovative measures to support the marine environment and sustainable fisheries through practical measures to avoid bycatch of threatened species
- $3 million will support the roll-out of ocean accounting at a national scale
The Government has also committed a new $59.9 million to develop a high-integrity carbon offset scheme in our Indo-Pacific region.