Minderoo Foundation has today announced a $100 million research initiative designed to study and protect global marine life and its chairman Andrew Forrest has used the occasion to attack the federal government’s new marine parks plan.
Minderoo Foundation has today announced a $100 million research initiative designed to study and protect global marine life, with chairman Andrew Forrest using the occasion to attack the federal government’s new marine parks plan.
The Minderoo Ocean Research initiative will be invested in new efforts to track global fishing patterns, fund research into ocean plastics pollution, and develop a research facility at Exmouth near the Ningaloo Reef to study the migration of sea life through the Indian Ocean.
Minderoo said it planned to partner with a range of institutions to establish globally impactful interventions in the marine conservation space.
Today’s announcement comes after Mr Forrest pledged last year to donate $400 million to a range of philanthropic causes, including cancer research, arts, education and early childhood development.
The Fortescue Metals Group chairman announced his latest initiative while aboard the Pangaea Ocean Explorer, a state-of-the-art deep water marine research vessel purchased commercially by the Forrest family and to be loaned to marine conservation efforts.
Mr Forrest said Australia needed to do more to lead the world in ocean research.
“Minderoo is making this timely commitment to support Australia’s oceans at a moment when we are losing sight of our responsibilities to sustainably manage the vast seas under Australia’s control,” he said.
“We need to recognise from a recreational and business perspective, not just an environmental perspective, that looking after our oceans is a vital duty we owe to our children and grandchildren.
“Australia leads the world in many areas of ocean research and conservation, but there’s so much more to do once we realise the dire shape our oceans are in.”
Mr Forrest said catches from wild fisheries in Australia had fallen by more than 30 per cent over the past few years, and were still falling, while entire fishing industries had been bankrupted and shut down overseas.
“This helps no-one. Not recreational fishers, not industry, and certainly not the environment," he said.
“We can and must do better, and that includes the new Marine Parks management plans before the Senate, which represent the largest roll back of marine protection in human history.
“These plans sorely let down Australia’s tourism and recreational fishing sectors by opening up our marine parks to aggressive and unsustainable industrial fishing.”
Minderoo’s long-term plans to study and conserve ocean life include a commitment to found a Global Fishing Index, following Minderoo’s establishment of the Global Slavery Index.
The federal government’s management plans for 44 Australian Marine Parks are currently before the Senate.
Mindeoo said 400,000 square kilometres of ocean would lose their IUCN II (no extraction) zoning under the plans.
It has joined a coalition of ocean ambassadors to oppose the plans, including Australian musicians Cold Chisel, Flume, Cody Simpson, Gang of Youths, and Alex the Astronaut.