80 Mile Beach marine park should inspire a new conservation vision for Kimberley



[news_posted_on] 29 January 2013  | 
Today’s announcement by the Western Australian Government to create a marine park at 80 Mile Beach presents a big win for the Kimberley’s marine environment, WWF-Australia said today.

WWF-Australia spokesperson Paul Gamblin said the new park between Port Hedland and Broome would form a key piece in the puzzle for a future network of marine protected areas that the Kimberley’s marine life so desperately needs.

80 Mile Beach provides vital habitat for threatened species like turtles, dugong and sawfish.” Mr Gamblin said,

It is also an important ‘stopover’ for thousands of shorebirds that migrate from as far away as Siberia. There are significant sanctuary zone areas in this plan, which set solid foundations for future management improvements.

Today’s announcement sets the stage for the creation of the Great Kimberley Marine Park.

A Great Kimberley Marine Park has the potential to become globally recognised as one of the world’s most spectacular marine areas with similar protection as the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo. With even greater ambition for levels of protection for future parks, the Kimberley is primed to set its own new conservation standards.

Broome’s Roebuck Bay, the outstanding North Kimberley, the Dampier Peninsula, and the Buccaneer Archipelago – the home of the snubfin dolphin – are not yet protected despite the increasing threats these places face. These special areas, and other important parts of the Kimberley coast, are some of the healthiest tropical marine systems left on the planet. Now is the time to protect them.

A Great Kimberley Marine Park would provide real opportunities for joint management with Traditional Owners, and the potential for new sustainable development like tourism. The inclusion of the ‘cultural heritage special purpose zone’ in this park is a very encouraging development, and we look to government to continue its discussions with Traditional Owners all along this coast. This will make for much more effective management of this marine environment.

Mr Gamblin said the WA Government’s commitment yesterday to a new national park around the Horizontal Falls and a new ‘Horizontal Falls Marine Park’ was an indication that a Great Kimberley Marine Park could become a reality within a few years.

With drilling rigs and mining equipment now becoming a regular sight in the Kimberley, there is great concern about the region’s future. Protecting the Kimberley’s great natural and cultural treasures is a matter of increasing urgency.

The new parks announced this week must signal a beginning of much greater focus on protection, rather than exploitation for this spectacular region,” Mr Gamblin said.


WWF-Australia contact:
Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager, 0432 206 592, drockett@wwf.org.au

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