New report presents strong case for Kimberley marine park to rival Great Barrier Reef
Nine special areas along the Kimberley coast were identified by the report, including the spectacular Buccaneer Archipelago, home to more than 900 islands dating back two billion years.
The report – The Kimberley Coast: Nine Iconic Places - produced by an alliance of WA, national and international conservation groups endorses and extends Premier Colin Barnett’s vision for a Great Kimberley Marine Park, and found protecting the marine environment would reinforce the region’s reputation as one of the last, large unspoiled places left on Earth.
“However, the report finds that just five per cent of the Kimberley marine environment is currently safeguarded from the threats of fishing and damage from industrial development such as oil and gas drilling,” said John Carey, Kimberley conservation manager, from the Pew Environment Group.
“Great legacies have been created with the Great Barrier Reef and at Ningaloo. The Kimberley is a jewel in WA’s and Australia’s crown and it’s now time we turned the jewel into a global icon by establishing a Great Kimberley Marine Park with provides for long term protection.”
Paul Gamblin, WWF-Australia’s marine conservation spokesperson, said, “It’s time to seize the moment to create the Great Kimberley Marine Park. More than 20,000 humpback whales migrate to the Kimberley’s near-pristine waters from Antarctica each year to calve, and six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle call this region home. ”
“The next Kimberley parks can take advantage of new laws to support joint management by Aboriginal communities with all the benefits that flow from that,” Mr Gamblin said.
The report highlighted how vast, and important the Kimberley marine environment is - extending north from Eighty Mile Beach and east to the Northern Territory border - an area of 630,000 square kilometres, which is more than twice the size of Victoria.
“A Great Kimberley Marine Park must protect these nine unique and crucial areas for our marine life, if it is to become a global icon,” said Wilderness Society marine campaigner, Jenita Enevoldsen.
“Time is running out for the Kimberley,” Ms Enevoldsen said, “For millions of years the Kimberley has remained unspoiled but suddenly massive industrial development has been proposed. We have a responsibility to take this once in a generation chance to safeguard the Kimberley for our future.”
The nine iconic areas identified in the study include
1) Eighty Mile Beach - destination to more than 450,000 migrating birds;
2) Roebuck Bay – an enormous seascape rich in wildlife with high numbers of snubfin dolphins and hundreds of thousands of migratory birds
3) Dampier Peninsula, which includes James Price Point, with its crucial feeding and breeding areas for fish stocks and rare turtles;
4) King Sound and Fitzroy River – the largest free-flowing river in Western Australia;
5) Camden Sound and Montgomery Reef – home to the largest humpback whale nursery in the Southern Hemisphere;
6) Buccaneer Archipelago – a world-class marine environment covering more than 900 islands with an abundance of marine life;
7) Talbot Bay and Collier region – home to the Horizontal Falls, a natural wonder of the world;
8) North Kimberley – a spectacular, remote marine environment with fringing reefs and hundreds of islands; and
9) Oceanic shoals – Rowley Shoals and Scott Reef, globally-important reef systems, supporting a huge diversity of fish and other marine life.
Pew Environment Group: John Carey 0400 450 399
WWF-Australia: Paul Gamblin 0410 221 508
The Wilderness Society: Jenita Enevoldsen 0405 941 500