With news of the 124,000 hectare Ngari Capes Marine Park breaking, you may have read the CCWA’s own Tim Nicol “welcoming the move as long overdue”. It isn’t hard to see why; unveiled by Colin Barnett and Bill Marmion on March 25th 2012, the initial proposal has been waiting, unapproved, since it was first tabled six years ago.
Made up of 25 zones, the park ranges from Geographe Bay (which includes coastline off of Bunbury and Bussleton) down to Flinders Bay (east of Augusta). It is schedule to be rolled-out in July 2012.
(full sized map attached)
The 25 zones are divided up by function, with differing levels of access specified for each. Specialized marine sanctuaries, for which Minister Marmion has confirmed there will be funding for extra policing, prohibit fishing activity with the purpose of protecting fish breeding sites. Four of these can be found within Geographe Bay, with one sitting just off the end of Busselton Jetty.
“Surfing zones” permit most recreational activities (fishing, boating, snorkeling – but only as long as they don’t interfere with the surf!) while specially designated “animal exercise” areas allow otherwise precluded adventurous pooches a chance to get wet.
All up, the plan states that 89 per cent of designated marine zones will be available for fishing, while 93 per cent of the WA coastline will also be available for people to fish from. Although any win for our marine must be celebrated, the announcement appears in many ways to be but a drop in the ocean.
Ngari Park is an important step, but the plan is by no means a panacea to the massive problems faced by our marine life. While it’s encouraging to see the State Government getting their act together, the pressure is now on for the Federal Government to do their bit. Promised marine sanctuaries are one thing, but as long as the threat of oil drilling in the Margaret River region persists our iconic coast line will not be safe.