AUSTRALIA will today declare the world's biggest marine reserve.
The controversial decision to protect more than 2.3 million sq km of ocean in marine parks will be announced by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke today, the Cairns Post reports.
Furious fishers, charter operators and aquarium collectors say the move will doom their trade and end in a skyrocketing price and more imported seafood for consumers.
Protect Our Coral Sea and marine conservation groups like the Pew Foundation welcome the proclamation as "one of the most significant" in the nation's conservation history.
Under the plan, no new "on the water" changes will come into effect until July 2014 after the next federal election where the Coalition has promised to revoke any declaration.
The average recreational angler is unlikely to be affected with the closest new "no-go zones" 210km from Cairns.
Commercial operators in the Coral Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria including tuna long-liners and prawn trawlers out of Cairns and Karumba will negotiate over a $100 million fisheries adjustment package.
"Australia is a world leader when it comes to protecting our oceans," Mr Burke said.
"And so we should be, we've got responsibility for more of the ocean than almost any other country on Earth.
Many of the world's endangered marine animals including green turtle, blue whale, southern right whale, Australian sea lion and the whale shark are found in these protected waters, he said.
"Australia is home to some incredible marine environments including the Perth Canyon in the south-west and the stunning reefs of the Coral Sea and this announcement cements Australia's position as a world leader on environmental protection."
Most of the 80,000 submissions supported the national marine network plan - that will eventually cover an area roughly equal to Australia's land mass, he said.
Reserves include large wilderness areas that are off-limits to all fishing; zones with a total ban on trawling; and zones where only catch-and-release or low-impact tourism like diving expeditions are permitted.
Catch-and-release fishing practiced by the marlin fishing game boats will still be allowed in the Coral Sea except in the designated green zone over the eastern half of the proposed marine park.
"We are witnessing one of the most significant days in Australia's environmental history," said Australian Marine Conservation Society Fiona Maxwell.
"This (the Coral Sea) is a globally diverse hot spot," she said.
"It's recognised as one of the few places in the world where you can see the great ocean predators like sharks, tuna, marlin and swordfish in high numbers."
Read more at the Cairns Post