NEW marine parks including the officially created Ngari Capes Marine Park, covering about 124,000ha from Geographe Bay to Augusta, drew both praise and criticism last week.
Western Australia’s 11th marine park, Ngari was listed in the Government Gazette, including the waters between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.
Environment Minister Bill Marmion said 15 sanctuary zones covering about 11 per cent of the park would give the highest level of protection to wildlife and habitat, and provide for ongoing scientific research.
“The sanctuary zones also permit a range of recreational activities including surfing, swimming, diving, snorkelling, boating, sailing and kayaking,” he said.
“The vast majority of the marine park is open to fishing, with 93 per cent of the coastline available for recreational fishing.”
However, Rob Alder of the No Oil for SW Beaches group described the national marine network as a “fake and fraudulent gesture”.
“There is still approximately 80 per cent of the Mentelle Basin release left unprotected which means there has not only been no material gain, but the spineless politicians in Canberra have given away a priceless and historic opportunity to protect one of Australia’s iconic coastlines,” he said.
“Only the revocation of the remaining oil lease will now suffice to salvage any popular confidence or ‘green credibility’ for the government in the Mentelle region, and alleviate this travesty.”
Green MP Giz Watson said, “The Greens will be carefully scrutinising the plan to ensure that protection is being offered to all key marine ecosystems in the South West.
“I also welcome the creation of Australia’s first ‘no oil’ zone outside of the Great Barrier Reef off Margaret River - this is a new and important precedent.
“It is unfortunate the ‘no oil’ zone only covers part of the area under consideration for drilling and the Greens will continue to press for a complete ‘no oil’ zone off Margaret River.
“The Greens have worked tirelessly in the State and Federal Parliaments and with local communities for the establishment of a comprehensive system of marine parks. It’s great to finally see both State and Federal governments acting together to protect Western Australia’s marine life.”
The Boating Industries Alliance Australia described the Federal Government’s creation of more than 40 new marine parks as “flawed and invalid”, “denying Australians the right to go boating and fishing”.
BIAA general manager Nik Parker said, “There is no scientific evidence to support the marine reserve system as planned”.
Minister Marmion said the State Government intended to create other marine parks at Camden Sound, Dampier Archipelago, Eighty Mile Beach, Roebuck Bay and in the North Kimberley.
A total of $8.56million was allocated from Royalties for Regions to manage the Ngari park.