Map marine areasIn a big step forward for world ocean protection, the Australian government has announced plans for the world’s largest network of marine protected areas.

Surrounding all states and territories, the new reserves will increase marine protected areas to about 3.1 million km2 (310,000,000 hectares) around the island of Australia.

The Australian government says the new protected areas will protect many iconic dive sites and ecologically important marine areas, including Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea, the Perth Canyon and Shark Bay in Western Australia.

The new areas will protect important habitat for species including whale sharks, many species of turtles, humpback whales, grey nurse and other shark species.

The government is expected to provide about AUD$100 million in compensation to commercial fishers, who will no longer be able to fish in some of the marine protected areas.

Read more and see maps here.