Australia has the third largest marine territory of any nation in the world and comprises of around 40 reserves, with a total area of 3.1 million square kilometres of ocean being managed primarily for biodiversity conservation.
These deeper water national parks are complimented by state parks along the coast. There are currently 13 marine parks in Western Australia managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
Marine conservation is the protection and preservation of ecosystems in the oceans and seas. It focuses on anthropogenic damage caused to marine ecosystems, on restoring damaged marine ecosystems and on protecting vulnerable marine species.
Coral reefs have a great amount of biodiversity and entire ecosystems are based around them. They offer marine animals with food, protection, shelter and are a food source for humans providing fish, molluscs etc. as well as delivering economic benefits through eco-tourism.
Because of human impact of coral reefs and a changing climate, these ecosystems are becoming increasingly degraded and in need of conservation. The biggest threats include overfishing, sedimentation and pollution from land-based sources.
This in conjunction with increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in oceans that causes a decrease in pH levels and acidification, coral bleaching, and diseases are now affecting the pristine reefs in the world.
Some of the strategies for marine conservation are the setting up protected areas, such as marine protected areas (MPAs), developing sustainable fisheries, setting fishing catch quotas, and restoring the populations of endangered species through artificial means.
The Marine Science Program at the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) provides a strong scientific foundation for the management of Western Australia's world-class system of marine parks and reserves and for the conservation of the State's unique marine biodiversity.