THE State Government is proposing spending $5.6 million over four years creating and policing a new marine park along the coast from Geographe Bay at Busselton to east of Augusta.
About $2 million will be set aside to compensate commercial fishers for the impact on their livelihoods of 15 proposed sanctuary zones where commercial and recreational fishing will be prohibited.
However, Premier Colin Barnett and Environment Minister Bill Marmion, at Yallingup on Saturday morning to announce the proposal, stressed that 89 per cent of the marine park area would be available for fishing and 93 per cent of the coastline would still be available for people to fish from.
“The bits of the coastline that aren’t in that 93 per cent – you really wouldn’t want to go there anyway,” Mr Marmion said.
Mr Barnett said there had been “extensive consultation” with all parties, including “the surfing fraternity, recreational fishers and the fishing industry” over the 15 sanctuary zones, 10 surfing zones, two special-purpose shore-based activity zones and two recreational zones proposed to be introduced in July as part of the 124,000ha Ngari Capes Marine Park.
The marine park, first proposed six years ago, will cover State waters out to the 5.5 kilometre limit and some proposed sanctuary zones will match up with similar zones proposed in a Federal marine park stretching from Kangaroo Island off SA to the Abrolhos Islands off WA’s Murchison coast.
“The creation of this marine park will help conserve one of Western Australia’s most remarkable marine areas,” Mr Barnett said. “It is also one of the State’s most popular tourism destinations - the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, adjoining the marine park, receives more than two million visits annually, and is the most popular national park in WA.”
While Fisheries Minister Norman Moore and senior Fisheries Department officers were not at Yallingup, Mr Marmion confirmed that some of the additional $2.2 million going to Fisheries, out of the $5.6 million, would go towards funding extra officers and boats to police the new marine park’s sanctuary zones.
The State Government will also negotiate a compensation package with the commercial fishing industry, Mr Marmion said.
He said he believed the “figure” would be about $2m and the proposed sanctuary most likely to affect commercial fishers was at Cape Leeuwin, extending south and west from the cape.
Other major West Coast sanctuary zone proposals include about a 10 kilometre stretch of coastline from south of Redgate beach around Cape Freycinet, about seven kilometres of coast around Cape Clairault and north towards Canal Rocks, off Cape Naturaliste and a section of Southern Ocean coast near Ledge Point east of Augusta.
Smaller sanctuary zones are proposed near Yallingup, at Kilcarnup encompassing Joey’s Nose and Cape Mentelle, at Hamelin Island, at Cosy Corner and at Flinders Island south of Augusta.
Four sanctuaries are also proposed in Geographe Bay, with one off the end of Busselton jetty.
Mr Marmion said the sanctuary zones would protect breeding grounds for fish.
The 10 special-purpose surfing zones cover all the major surf breaks from Windmills, near Cape Naturaliste, south to Redgate.
The two largest are Margaret River zone covering River Mouth and Surfers Point south to Gas Bay, and Lefthanders zone south of Gracetown.
Fishing, boating, snorkelling and spear-fishing are permitted in surfing zones, unless they clash with surfing activities which have priority in the zones, Mr Marmion said.
Freestyling such as wave jumping on jetskis will be prohibited in surf zones.
Dogs, horses and other animals will not be permitted to be exercised in the water anywhere in the proposed marine park unless the area has been approved and designated as an animal exercise area.
Cowaramup Bay, Gracetown, and Hamelin Bay out to Hamelin Island are proposed to be the two special-purpose recreation zones where most recreational activities are allowed but commercial operators are prohibited.