In 2012, Australia’s ruling Labor Government at the time designated an extensive system of Commonwealth Marine Reserves, increasing the nation’s MPA system from 27 sites to 60 and covering more than 3 million km2 in total. Described by the Government as the most comprehensive marine park network worldwide, the system included the new Coral Sea Marine Reserve, a nearly 1 million-km2 area of which half would be no-take.
The following year, a new Coalition Government was voted into power. The new leaders had campaigned against the reserve system, suggesting it had been imposed without fair or adequate consultation with industry. In response they instituted a review process to reassess the science and zoning of the new reserves. While the review process proceeded, the boundaries of the reserves remained but their management plans were effectively in limbo: their regulations remained as they were prior to designation.