The absence of properly identified mechanisms to adequately protect the marine environment remains a major shortcoming in Australia's commitment to biodiversity conservation. The current commitment to a National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas (NRSMPA) falls far short of providing adequate protection against the suite of existing and potential threats even though areas are designated as being 'protected'. In this paper it is argued that the actions taken under the NRSMPA are disproportionately concentrated on regulating fishing, including the closing of areas in so-called sanctuary zones to all types of fishing. In the absence of clearly identified threats from most forms of fishing and without assessment of how best to manage those few fishing threats that have been identified, such actions are inefficient and mostly inappropriate. Moreover, they do not provide adequate protection against the full suite of threats to marine environments. Adequate measures for the proper conservation of these areas and/or the protection of marine biodiversity more generally are not being provided and in most cases threats are not even adequately described and evaluated.