Effective Friday night of Nov 16, a vast portion of the oceans surrounding Australia, 2.3 million square kilometres to be exact, will become part of the country's marine reserves.
The huge number effectively makes Australia with the biggest marine park network in the entire world.
"As of midnight tonight, Australia becomes the world leader in protection of the oceans," Environment Minister Tony Burke told reporters in Sydney on Friday morning, noting the scheme comes in an opportune time not only for Australia but for the rest of the globe as the world's oceans continue to face serious threat.
"The extension of marine protections will help deal with the growing problem," he said.
As expected, the soon-to-be law immediately faced contention from differing groups.
Arguing the new marine reserves will kill Australia's fishing industry, the Australian Marine Alliance (AMA) has vowed to elevate the fight to the High Court.
"We will explore every single legal avenue available to us, we will take this to the High Court,'' AMA Chief Executive Dean Logan was quoted by The Herald Sun.
This despite the federal government's pronouncement that some $100 million in compensation had been allocated for commercial fisherman who would be affected of the new law.
''The assistance package recognises that while the marine reserves are estimated to only have around 1 per cent impact on the commercial fishing industry nationally, some fishers and fishing businesses will be affected,'' Mr Burke said.
But the amount could only go far enough, said Veteran Nationals Senator Ron Boswell, a fierce opponent of the marine reserves.
"There is going to be a lot of people put out of business with no compensation," he said. "That is not going to go far enough."
A cost analysis earlier done by the AMA revealed the law would displace 60 regional communities, affect 36,000 and put out of place 70-80 trawler operators, as well as impact the A$2 billion (US$2 billion) aquaculture industry.
The law likewise means that Australia would now have to import to meet its seafood cravings.
"The reality for the Australian people is we import 72 per cent of our seafood," Barnaby Joyce, another Nationals senator, said. "So if you eat seafood it's 72 per cent likely to have come from somewhere else."
"There are some areas where you've got fishing still continuing but some activities such as trawling are banned. You've got some areas where oil and gas exploration is banned. And then you've got a number of areas that are highly protected where all forms of extractive activity are banned," Mr Burke said, noting the marine reserves were based on science and 10 years of consultation.
"The declaration of these new marine reserves delivers on an election commitment and represents a major achievement for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of Australia's oceans," he added.
More of Mr Burke's announcement here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-JvFAsylK-8#!
To contact the editor, e-mail: