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Australia announced that it will build the world's largest marine park, banning offshore oil and gas exploration in an area the size of India. The plan will increase the nation's total park cover to 6 million square kilometers and increase the number of marine reserves from 27 to 60, preventing all new oil and gas projects in the area and limiting commercial fishing in the most sensitive spots. Conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott said that the plan would limit the rights of commercial fishers and tourist operators, but environmental groups criticized the plan for not going far enough to protect marine mammals. The plan leaves out much of Western Australia, causing the Greens party to call the plan a "surrender" to the oil and gas industry. However, the plan will prevent new mining projects in the Coral Sea, adjoining the struggling Great Barrier Reef. Australia also announced last week that it plans to declare a 10 million hectare conservation zone, carving out Aboriginal land in the Tanami Desert to help protect endangered species. The plan will allow indigenous rangers to conserve species like the bilby and the great desert skink. For the full story, see http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/14/australia-environment-marine-idUSL3E8HE1AO20120614 and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303822204577465374175802912.html. For the story on the Tanami Desert, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18792641. Earlier: http://elr.info/international/international-update/australias-marine-life-and-great-barrier-reef-risk