Parks Australia manages 58 marine parks located 5.5 kilometres from the coast in commonwealth waters. 6 network areas cover 3.3 million square kilometres which equates to 36% of Australian oceans.
North, North-west, South-west, South-east, temperate and Coral Sea make up the 6 marine networks and within each are numerous marine parks. The famed Great Barrier Reef is managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Coral Sea Marine Park
The largest of Australia’s marine parks which is located off the coast of Queensland is 989,836 square kilometres. The Coral Sea Marine Park is responsible for protecting many species, habitats and bioregions that encompass the area. For example, the Humpback annual migration, whale shark aggregation and transient tuna population all pass through the park.
Six provincial bioregions, 16 seafloor types and areas of historical value are all located here. Shipwrecks from the US and Japanese WWII fleets are located in the area and create important heritage value.
Heard Island and McDonald Islands
The Heard Island and McDonalds Islands Marine Reserve are located in the southern Indian Ocean, and cover over 71,000 square kilometres. Compared to other sub Antarctic islands there is a relatively low number of invasive species and an uninterrupted population of endemic flora and fauna including kelp.
North Network (Oceanic Shoals)
The North Marine Parks Network contains 8 marine parks covering 157,480 square kilometres located off the coast of the Northern Territories and Queensland. Oceanic Shoals is a marine park off the coast of Darwin and is a important nesting and foraging area for both olive ridley and loggerhead turtles.
North-west Network (Ningaloo)
The North-West Network contains 13 marine parks located of the north west coast of Australia and cover 330,000 square kilometres. Ningaloo is the most famed park of the 13, while Ashmore Reef, Cartier Island and Mermaid Reef are all popular parks responsible for the protection of whale and shark species, especially the whale shark.
Temperate East Network (Lord Howe Island)
8 marine parks covering 380,000 square kilometres make up the Temperate East Network located off the coast of New South Wales. Lord Howe, Solitary Islands and Norfolk are all important sites for seabirds including red-tailed tropicbirds and petrels, as well as aquatic species such as black cod. Lord Howe is located 640 kilometres from Sydney.
South-East Network (Macquarie Island)
With 14 marine parks located off Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, the South- East Network covers 388,000 square kilometres. Macquarie Island is included in the network and due to being so far south is an important area for killer whales, elephant seals and even many species of penguin and albatross.
South-West Network (Great Australian Bight Marine Park)
Another network with 14 marine parks, the South-West Network covers a massive 508,000 square kilometres and includes the Southern Kangaroo Island and Great Australian Bight where Southern right whales calve and Australian sea lion, great white shark and sperm whale forage.