Colin Barnett’s state liberal Government has started off 2012 with a bang, releasing two new marine parks in Western Australian waters with large marine sanctuaries.
The long awaited Ngari Capes Marine Park that encompasses Geographe Bay and around the Capes to Augusta has 15 new marine sanctuaries and will be an excellent contribution to preserving marine life, but also to the local community and tourism industry.
Today he backed it up by releasing the Camden Sound Marine Park in the Kimberley with two large marine sanctuaries, including what will soon be Western Australia’s largest marine sanctuary over Montgomery Reef. There remains much more to be done to preserve the Kimberley, one of the world’s last great natural places, including stopping the processing of LNG at James Price Point in the southern part of the humpback nursery where more than 20,000 whales come to breed and protecting the magestic Mitchell plateau from bauxite mining, but this is a big step in the right direction for the future of this iconic part of Australia. The marine environment of the Kimberley rivals that of the Great Barrier Reef.
There were big problems in the original draft released by the State Government but after public consultation those problems have been fixed resulting in today’s very positive outcome.
More in these press releases from the Conservation Council of WA:
The pressure is now right on Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to show that he too can act on the strong public and science consensus for more marine protection in Western Australia’s waters (The Federal Government controls all waters from the State boundary at 3nm to the EEZ at 200nm).
Like Camden Sound, the draft maps released for public comment were not well below standard, with only 2 of ten critical marine life icons in the South West proposed for protection. However, also like Camden Sound, the community and scientists responded with an overwhelming call for more protection. More than 221 scientists, and major science institutions like the CSIRO and the Australian Marine Science Association joined the tourism and SCUBA industries, and more than 38,000 individuals in calling for more protection.
We now await eagerly the next developments from the State Government in the North Kimberley and at 80 mile beach, and to see what the Federal Government will do with their consultation period mandate to increase protection.