THE South Australian Government last week announced that its network of 19 Marine Parks, which aim to protect the State's unique marine environment, have officially taken effect.
Premier Jay Weatherill said that while the Marine Park zones take effect immediately, effects on fishing will be phased in and supported with a public education campaign.
Mr Weatherill said South Australia's oceans deserve protection as they contain more diversity than the Great Barrier Reef, with many of the marine plants and animals living in southern Australian waters not located anywhere else on earth.
The Premier also released the Marine Parks management plans and zoning and announced that the Neptune Islands Group Marine Park on the West Coast would be named after the pioneering Australian conservationists and film makers Ron and Valerie Taylor.
Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Paul Caica said that with unprecedented community input, the marine parks had been carefully designed and zoned to protect fragile marine habitats while minimising the impact on industry.
"Sanctuary zones make up about six per cent of state waters - areas where activities such as commercial and recreational fishing, trawling and mining are not allowed - to protect animal and fish breeding and feeding areas and unspoiled habitats," Mr Caica said.
Mr Caica said the finalisation of the State's marine parks was a tribute to the hard work and determination of tens of thousands of South Australians who contributed to consultation on the parks.
While the Marine Park zoning is now in effect, changes to recreational and commercial fishing will be phased in with a community education campaign.
Fisheries Minister Gail Gago said trawling restrictions will come into effect in March 2013 and all other fishing restrictions in October 2014.
"The Government will be running an education campaign to let the public know about the zoning and where they can fish and enjoy our marine environment," Ms Gago said, adding that most people will be able to fish where they always have.
"Our commercial fishing industry makes an important contribution to our state's economy and marine parks have been carefully designed to avoid productive fishing areas where possible," she said.
"The state-wide impact on commercial fishing is about 1.7 per cent and the Government will commence the buy-back of commercial fishing entitlements next year to offset this impact.
More information about the Marine Parks is available from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources website at <http://www.marineparks.sa.gov.au/>.