Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park Draft Released

The Western Australian Government has released another draft plan for public comment in the series of planned marine parks for the Kimberley, and this effort was much better than the previous proposal for protection in Camden Sound.

Media statement and relevant links for proposal and how to make comment from the Government here.

Here’s hoping this is a new direction for the WA Government who appear to be increasingly realising the strong support in the science community, and the general community, for increased marine sanctuary protection for WA’s unique marine life.

The challenge is also on for the Federal Government.  Beyond the three nautical miles controlled by the State, the current Federal Government proposal for protection in the North West has very little marine sanctuary protection, and almost none in important coastal waters. I’ll post more on this issue in the next couple of weeks.

Media Statements from Conservation Groups below:

Conservation Council of WA, Environs Kimberley and Wilderness Society

Conservation groups welcome new Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park

Conservation groups today welcomed the release of a draft plan for the new Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park but warned that large scale industrialisation of the Pilbara and Kimberley regions still threatened marine life.

Marine Campaigner for The Wilderness Society WA Jenita Enevoldsen said, “With the inclusion of three large marine sanctuaries, the new Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park brings improved marine protection to important near-shore habitats in the Pilbara, including the breeding beaches of the threatened Flatback turtle and internationally significant Ramsar wetlands.  It is critical this level of protection be maintained or strengthened in the final plan.”

Marine Coordinator at Conservation Council of WA Tim Nicol said, “We commend the Barnett Government for listening to calls from marine scientists and the broader community for larger marine sanctuaries to protect our unique and precious marine life.

“Marine sanctuaries have been shown to protect threatened marine life and help fish stocks to recover.  However, less than 1% of WA’s State and Federal waters are currently protected in marine sanctuaries.”

The new marine park comes just days after the announcement of another major LNG development for the Pilbara and amid the continuing campaign against industrialisation of the Kimberley coast.

Conservation groups are also still waiting to hear if the proposed Camden Sound marine park will be improved to provide adequate marine sanctuary protection. In addition, concerns remain over the lack of protection offered to near-shore waters in the Commonwealth Government’s plans for new marine parks in the North West.

Acting Director of Environs Kimberley Emma Belfield said, ““This draft plan is a step forward for the future of marine parks in WA. However, with several large-scale industrial developments on the horizon – including recent oil and gas releases just off Eighty Mile Beach – much more needs to be done to protect our precious North Western marine environments.”

 


WWF-Australia reaction to Eighty MileBeachmarine park proposal
 

Paul Gamblin, WWF-Australia Marine Protected Areas Manager said:

 

“This stretch of tropical coastline is a sanctuary for turtles, shorebirds, sawfish and dolphins. It deserves high levels of protection and this plan is a solid start in that process.

 

“WWF applauds the potential of this proposal to offer real joint management opportunities for Aboriginal communities in the region. To turn these opportunities into reality, the Government must invest money to back up the proposal.

 

“The approval of mega-projects like Gorgon and Wheatstone shows the oil and gas industry continues to march into the globally important tropical marine environment offWestern Australia’sKimberley. Governments have a lot of catching up to do as less than one per cent of this region is fully protected.

 

“This proposal is a small but important part of the network of sanctuaries that urgently need to be created in WA and Commonwealth waters.

 

“Premier Barnett has already promised to deliver strong protection for Camden Sound and Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke must be ambitious in his marine park proposals for the region from Shark Bay and Ningaloo up to the Kimberley, which currently fails to protect shallow water wildlife habitats and important whale feeding areas.”

 

 

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