In an earlier post, we wrote about President Bush’s proposal to create the largest protected marine area in the world in the Pacific Ocean.

A group of scientists, environmental groups, and former members of Australia’s navy are now calling for the creation of another reserve that would ban fishing in a whopping 400,000 square mile area off Australia’s northeast coast.

reef2 Another gargantuan protected area proposed for the Pacific Ocean
Coral at the Great barrier reef, Australia

It will sure be interesting to see if these two suggestions will become a reality, and if so, which of the protected areas that will ultimately become the largest protected marine area in the world. When discussing protected areas it is also important to keep in mind that the term “protected” can mean very different things.

The proposed protected area off of Australia’s northeast coast is known as the Coral Sea. It is a so called marginal sea, which means that it is a part of an ocean partially enclosed by land, e.g. by archipelagos and peninsulas. The Coral Sea is bordered by the east coast of Queensland to the west, by the Vanuatu archipelago and New Caledonia to the east, and by the Solomon Islands to the north.

The Coral Sea Basin is believed to have been formed between 58 and 48 million years ago when the Queensland continental shelf was lifted up by tectonic forces. The sea is not only famous for its rich biodiversity; it is of cultural significance as well and was for instance the location of a famous battle during World War II.

The effort to create a no-take marine park in the Coral Sea is headed by the Pew Environment Group. You can find more information about the initiative on their site.