Marine Park's a big win for WA
March 22, 2018
Marine protection is everyone’s business and some would argue that our marine environment is WA’s greatest asset.
The spotlight is on marine protection this week with the tabling of the Australian Marine Park management plans (the Plans) into the Federal Parliament. The Plans will protect our valuable marine environment while looking after WA industry and jobs. They provide both balance and certainty for all who know and love our marine environment.
The Plans create a world-class management system that will protect these parks for the next 10 years, supporting ocean health and sustainable use of our marine resources.
Despite claims to the contrary, we have created more area of marine parks with high levels of protection – what we call sanctuary, national park and habitat protection zones – than there would have been under plans proposed by Labor in 2012 (1.62 million square kilometres, or 68 per cent compared to 1.43 square kilometres or 60 per cent).
There are more conservation features under high levels of protection in the Plans than in the ones Labor put forward, with 344 features included under the highest levels of protection, compared with 331 in 2012.
More area across the marine parks is closed to mining, with no mining allowed in the Coral Sea or the waters close to Kangaroo Island.
In addition to this, we have balanced conservation with certainty for those who make their living from our oceans. This of course is hugely important in our State. More areas are open to commercial fishing – 80 per cent versus 63 per cent in 2012. This means less financial impact on our commercial fishers.
In very real terms this means less economic impacts on our ports – for Fremantle the impact is reduced by 61 per cent, for Albany, 40 per cent.
And for mums and dads who want to take their kids out into our water, 97 per cent of Commonwealth waters within 100 kilometres of the coast are open to recreational fishing.
Our State is home to some of the most well-known Australian Marine Parks, including Ningaloo, Rowley Shoals and Geographe.
The Marine National Park Zone at Bremer Bay, which previously only covered around 6 per cent of the total marine reserve, will now increase to 70 per cent, an increase of nearly 3000 square kilometres.
For Geographe, we’ve listened to the local tourism industry and community to introduce a national park zone adjoining the existing marine park zone in State waters. This gives more protection to the marine environment and species like the western rock lobster.
For Bremer, again we’ve listened to the local community. It wanted us to restrict scallop trawling in the inner area of the marine park, to protect its valuable foraging areas for seabirds, Australian sea lions, humpback whales and calving area for southern right whales. We’ve done just that, and also extended the green zone significantly from what was proposed in 2012 to include Bremer Canyon, home to spectacular aggregations of marine animals.
The Rowley Shoals, north-west of Broome offers some of the world’s best diving – and we want to support that. That’s why 100 per cent of Mermaid Reef is zoned green – or ‘no take’.
Ningaloo is a World Heritage listed area, providing habitat for dugong, whale sharks, turtles and a humpback and pygmy blue whales.
That’s why we’ve introduced a new national park zone to provide addition protection for Ningaloo.
And most importantly, the ideas in the Plans have come from the locals on the ground who know these places and love these parks.
The Turnbull Government commissioned the independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review to deliver a scientific basis for these marine park plans.
Thousands of Australians then told us what they wanted the future of our marine parks to look like, through more than 130,000 submissions, public forums and meetings.
While under our management plans, opportunities to fish in the water column have expanded, so too has the protections for the sea floor. An additional 200,000 square kilometres of sea floor habitat, nearly the size of Victoria will now be protected under yellow and green zones, reducing trawling and other like activities.
If the Coalition's marine park management plans are disallowed in the Senate, as Labor is threatening to do, the public need to be aware of the consequences. The status quo will continue, which means an absence of management plans and protections for large areas of marine estate while condemning Australian marine users to years of uncertainty. Far from ideal for all WA lovers and users of our ocean.
You can go to www.parksaustralia.gov.au/marine and learn more about our Government’s positive plan for the next 10 years of ocean management.