Australia announced they are planning create the world’s largest network of marine parks. These efforts aim to protect ocean life, limiting fishing activities as well as oil and gas exploration.

They say this new reserves will cover a span of 3.1 million square kilometers, including major breeding and feeding grounds of many marine species. This area accounts to more than one-third of the total aquatic areas of Australia.

This announcement came ahead of the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development this coming week in Brazil. Environment Minister Tony Burke and Prime Minister Julia Gillard will attend the summit, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit.

After years of planning, this project will work to increase the number of reserves from 27 to 60. This will expand the protection of marine animals like blue whale, green turtle, including endangered species like dugongs.

“It’s time for the world to turn a corner on protection of our oceans…This new network of marine reserves will help ensure that Australia’s diverse marine environment, and the life it supports, remain healthy, productive and resilient for future generations,” said Burke.

The Wilderness Society said it was “clear that future marine sanctuaries will need to be put in place.”

Meanwhile, the Australian Conservation Foundation welcomed these efforts, describing it “a historic achievement.” They expressed concern, however, that some areas are still under threat.