|The Australian region: an overview|
Zann, L.P. (2000). The Australian region: an overview, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 579-592
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more
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|Document type: Review|
Australia has a 2OO-mile EEZ of over 11 million kIn2, one of the largest in the world. Its waters span almost 60 degrees in latitude, and include all ocean temperature zones, and communities from corals reefs to temperate kelps. The coastline of the mainland and associated islands is around 70,000 kIn long, and there are over 12,000 islands. The shelf area is generally narrow, and waters are limited in nutrients. It has a high marine biodiversity, with two major bioregions: the tropical north (lndo-Pacific), and the temperate south (with a high proportion of endemics). Australia has the largest areas of coral reefs, and seagrasses, and the third largest area of mangroves in the world. While human populations are low by world standards, over 85% live in the coastal zone, mostly in metropolitan areas. Much of the land has been cleared for agriculture, resulting in massive land degradation. This has increased run-off of sediments and nutrients, degrading estuaries, threatening inshore coral reefs and causing massive die-back of temperate seagrass. Pollution from heavy metals and chlorinated compounds is locally severe around urban estuaries and bays, and adjacent industrial areas. The region has limited fisheries, and virtually all areas are subject to commercial fishing. Marine environmental management is undertaken by State agencies within the three-mile limit, and by the Commonwealth (national) government to the 200 mile EEZ. Australia has the largest area of marine protected areas in the world, and in 1998 produced a comprehensive oceans policy. The state of the marine environment is regarded as generally good (largely because of the sparse rural populations) but declines in estuaries, seagrass and fisheries are of major concern.