WWF Calls For Better Protection For New Parks

New parks are to be created as marine and wildlife sanctuaries in Western Australia, but the new protections proposed for this area in Kimberly will still allow oil drilling, mining, and commercial fishing. It seems these new protections don’t protect against anything. – Global Animal

Photo Credit: Doug Coughran, DEC

Four new marine parks are to be created in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, covering a land and sea area more than half the size of Tasmania.

But environmentalists have reacted angrily to today’s announcement by Premier Colin Barnett that the 3.5 million hectares of new parks will give genuine protection to Kimberley wilderness areas.

The Kimberley Wilderness Parks will cover a land and sea area more than half the size of Tasmania and include four new marine parks, a new national park and additional conservation reserves.

“The northwest Kimberley is one of the most pristine areas remaining in the world and the government is committed to protecting the natural character of the Kimberley wilderness for future generations,” Mr Barnett said.

But Conservation Council WA Director Piers Verstegen said the parks would be “better described as mining and fishing parks” and were not a win for conservation.

“The vast majority of the area within these parks will be available for damaging industrial development like oil drilling, commercial fishing and mining,” he said.

“We’ve done the numbers and based on this announcement, 98 per cent of the Kimberley would still be available for those damaging industrial developments.

“It’s clear from this announcement that the minister for mining and petroleum and fisheries has actually been the architect of this proposal.”

WWF-Australia WA director Paul Gamblin said the real protection under the new parks plan was minimal.

“This doesn’t even rate against international standards and falls far short of the protection afforded the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo.

“This proposal could just be the government testing the waters, in which case the community must make its voice heard and demand higher levels of protection,” Mr Gamblin said.

Environs Kimberley Director Martin Pritchard said Mr Barnett had promised to protect the Humpback Whale calving area in Camden Sound but only 13 per cent of it would be a declared a ‘marine sanctuary”.

“The premier knows that poorly designed marine parks offer no real protection – activities like mining, oil, gas and fishing can continue in almost the entire park area.

“Only large marine sanctuaries, areas which are free from industrial development and fishing, will protect the Kimberley’s spectacular marine life to breed and feed away from interference,” Mr Pritchard said.

The new marine parks will be in the North Kimberley, Roebuck Bay, Eighty Mile Beach and Camden Sound, which is the largest Humpback Whale nursery in the southern hemisphere.

The Camden Sound and North Kimberley marine parks will be managed together as the Great Kimberley Marine Park.

It will include two sanctuary zones designated as no-take areas, excluding commercial and recreational fishing, shell collecting, aquaculture and mineral or petroleum exploration and production.