Tiger shark. Photo: Eric ChengTiger shark. Photo: Eric ChengSea Shepherd Conservation Society has announced it is offering its expertise, vessels, and resources to help patrol and protect Australia’s newly established and world’s largest marine reserve, the Coral Sea, in an effort to help safeguard this magnificent ocean resource and its marine life.

After a lengthy public comment period, The Australian Government announced Thursday it had taken a bold step to establish the ocean preserve. In a statement on the Government’s website, they said: “This action represents a turning point in the conservation and management of our oceans.” It further explained:  “Just like national parks on land, marine sanctuaries are now an accepted and mainstream part of the national agenda to address the unprecedented threats facing our unique marine life.”

In making its announcement, the Government stated enforcement will be key to the success of the newly established network of marine parks. Without it, foreign fishing vessels will continue to exploit the region’s fragile ecosystems through poaching, over-fishing, shark-finning and other illegal activities.

Former Herbert MP Mr. Lindsay said the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority should be in charge of monitoring the world's largest protected marine park.  "There's no point in having a marine park unless you can patrol it and police it," he said.”  He added: “They would have to receive adequate funding, they can't do it in their existing budget. Even if it does take another $10 million, it's money well spent.”

In response to the Australian Government’s remarks, Sea Shepherd is offering its assistance to collaborate and employ its resources and expertise to protect the waters from foreign fishing vessels illegally operating inside the new Coral Sea marine sanctuary, providing an enforcement solution that would be at no cost to the Australian taxpayer.

Sharks species will be protected from overfishing in the Coral Sea. Photo: Julie AndersenSharks species will be protected from overfishing in the Coral Sea. Photo: Julie AndersenSea Shepherd would also provide vessels and welcome members of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, or other appropriate Australian authorities, to be represented onboard ship on patrol in the Coral Sea.

The organization would work alongside the appropriate Australian authorities to design strategies, implement appropriate programs and facilitate prosecution of illegal fishing activities.

Sea Shepherd has a long legacy of successfully defending and preserving marine ecosystems and animals worldwide and we have a very strong base of support in Australia. Our program in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, is a model example of how our organization can support a local government in protecting its shark population and marine ecosystems. We have contributed more than $4 million dollars toward the acquisition of a patrol boat, the installation of vessel identification systems, training, enforcement, a team of fin-sniffing patrol dogs, and legal support for prosecution. We have been commended by the Galapagos government, Navy, and Marine Reserve officials. Together, we are protecting their rich waters from poachers and illegal international fishing fleets who aim to plunder local economies and ecosystems.

“Sea Shepherd is prepared to work with any government or local agency to protect their waters,” says founder Captain Paul Watson. “We have resources and experience unlike those of other conservation organizations including world-wide awareness and support, ongoing program implementation, media relations expertise, training, shark fin-sniffing dogs, and vessel identification systems.  We stand ready to put our enforcement expertise to work for Australia’s Coral Sea for the long term."

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