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Mining magnate Andrew Forrest donates $100 million to ocean conservation

The Minderoo Foundation will donate $100 million in an effort to boost Australia’s involvement in ocean conservation

Renowned philanthropist, Andrew Forrest, has donated $100 million to study and protection of Australian marine life through his Minderoo Foundation.

The landmark donation will be invested in efforts to track global fishing patterns and fund research into plastics pollution. There will also be a world class research facility that will be used to study the migration of sea life through the Indian Ocean.

Forrest said that although Australia was leading the world in many areas of ocean research and conservation, there was more to be done to manage the world’s largest regions.

“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,” Forrest said of the foundation he shares with his wife, Nicola Forrest.

Minderoo will partner with a range of institutions to establish globally impactful programs in the marine conservation space and has established collaborations with leading groups to do so, from organisations through to universities.

Forrest said it was important to recognise the recreational and business perspectives of looking after the oceans. This comes as catches from wild fisheries in Australia have fallen by 30 per cent over the past few years and are still showing evidence of falling. Overseas fishing industries have become bankrupt and the numbers of fish species have plummeted by 90 per cent.

“This helps no one. Not recreational fishers, not industry and certainly not the environment.

“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.”

The Australian Federal government’s management plans for 44 marine parks is currently before the Senate, with 400,000 square kilometres of ocean to lose their IUCN II (no extraction) zoning under the plans. Minderoo is currently opposing this move.

Minderoo’s long term plans to study and conserve ocean life include a commitment to found a Global Fishing Index, which would be a highly welcome initiative.

Professor Daniel Pauly, Head of the Sea Around Us project, said: “We have good data on global fisheries for both the status of fishing species and for the movements of fishing vessels. The Global Fishing Index will translate that knowledge into impact, assisting countries and businesses to improve their practices and thus ocean sustainability.”

Research Chair at Minderoo Foundation, Fiona David, said the evidence-based approach to advocacy has delivered great dividends for victims of modern slavery in recent years.

“We now hope to translate that impact to sustainable ocean management, be it through tracking plastics and noise pollution, fishing patterns or marine migration.”

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