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Australia creates world's biggest marine reserves

Australia creates world's biggest marine reserves

Australia has completed a plan which creates the world's biggest network of marine reserves, which will cover more than 1.1 million square miles of ocean, official said. The marine parks, is protecting waters covering an area as large as India as banning oil and gas exploration as well as limiting commercial fishing in some of the most sensitive areas. The government expects to pay an estimated 100 million Australian dollars ($100 million) to the fishing industry in compensation for the new restrictions on their operations that will take effect late this year, Environment Minister Tony Burke said Thursday. Highly protected areas such as the Coral Sea off Australia's northeastern coast and the adjoining World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef will also be protected from oil and gas exploration. Both areas, which cover a total 1.3 million square kilometers (500,000 square miles), have shallow reefs that support tropical ecosystems with sharks, coral, sponges and many fish species. The numbers of marine reserves off the Australian coast will be added from 27 to 60.