Mega marine park for the Kimberley

In a significant move the West Australian Government has announced the formation of four new marine parks for the Kimberley region. The Kimberley Wilderness Parks, which includes the state’s largest interconnected system of marine and terrestrial parks covers more than 3.5 million hectares – an area of land and sea more than half the size of Tasmania.

Created under the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, Premier Colin Barnett said the new parks would include four new marine parks, a new national park and additional conservation reserves.

“The creation of the Kimberley Wilderness Parks will almost treble the area of marine parks and reserves in WA, from 1.5 million hectares to 4.1 million hectares,” Barnett said.

Most notably for anglers is that the Great Kimberley Marine Park will include two sanctuary zones designated no-take areas, which excludes all forms of recreational and commercial fishing. Rec fishing will be allowed in marine park waters, with the exception of the sanctuary zones, however lower bag limits and a requirement to consume fish on site will apply in the wilderness fishing zone.

“Last year we gave a commitment to establish a marine park at Camden Sound, added to this will be three new parks in the North Kimberley, at Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach,” Barnett said.

The Camden Sound and North Kimberley marine parks would be managed together as the Great Kimberley Marine Park which will extend from Montgomery Reef in the south up to Cape Londonderry in the north, covering more than 17 per cent of WA waters. 

“Sanctuary zones are special areas that are only host to no-impact or low-impact activities such as nature appreciation, scientific research, customary Aboriginal hunting and fishing and wildlife interaction,” the Premier said.

The Kimberley Wilderness Parks would include WA’s 99th national park, with the Prince Regent Nature Reserve upgraded to a class A national park.

Environment Minister Donna Faragher said the four new marine parks would be the first along the Kimberley coast.

“The Liberal-National Government has recognised that the Kimberley marine environment is worthy of increased protection and is making the largest single increase to marine parks in WA’s history,” Faragher said.

“Today, I am also pleased to release the indicative management plan for the proposed Camden Sound Marine Park and invite the community to have their say on how the park will be managed.”

“People can make submissions until February 1, 2011 on how Camden Sound should be managed, while indicative management plans for the other three marine parks announced today will be prepared in consultation with traditional owners and other interested parties and made available for public comment next year.”

Faragher said consultation with the community would be an important part of the planning process for the Camden Sound Marine Park.

Premier Barnett said the Government would release further initiatives under the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy over the coming months, following further discussions with traditional owners, landholders and the community.

More information is available here.

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