In Environment

Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett

Western Australia Minister for Environment Bill Marmion

New Marine Park To Protect Kimberley Coast

Victor P Taffa

  • Premier and Environment Minister announce major marine sanctuary
  • Camden Sound Marine Park to be one of WA’s biggest
  • Park will protect State’s most important humpback whale calving area

Thousands of humpback whales that annually migrate along the west coast will have increased protection within a new Kimberley marine park to be created by the State Government.

Premier Colin Barnett and Environment Minister Bill Marmion today announced the Government’s decision to create Camden Sound Marine Park, about 300 km north-east of Broome.

“Camden Sound, covering nearly 7,000 sq km, is the first of four new marine parks to be created under the $63 Million Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy. Other parks will be created at Eighty Mile Beach, Roebuck Bay and the North Kimberley.” Premier Barnett said.

“Creating this marine park reaffirms our election commitment to protect this significant and biologically important region.”

“Camden Sound is internationally recognised as the biggest calving area for humpback whales in the southern hemisphere with more than 1,000 humpbacks found there during the calving season.”

“They are part of the biggest population of humpback whales in the world numbering almost 30,000 that migrate from Antarctica each year to give birth in the waters off the north of our State.”

Mr. Marmion said a special purpose zone would be created covering about 1,670 sq km to enhance protection of the humpback whale calving grounds.

“This zone will require vessels to remain at least 500 m from humpback mothers and calves.” Mr. Marmion said.

“There will also be two sanctuary zones comprising about 20 % of the marine park area more than 1,300 sq km around Champagny Islands and Montgomery Reef, which is exposed on the outgoing tide to reveal a series of awe-inspiring waterfalls.”

“Montgomery Reef sanctuary zone, at 761 sq km, will become the biggest sanctuary zone in the WA marine park system.”

“We have also included a small general use zone covering the frequently visited area known as ‘The River’ at Montgomery Reef. This will allow some fishing and other activities to continue in this area.”

WA Minister for Environment Bill Marmion

WA Minister for Environment Bill Marmion











“The marine park’s zoning scheme will help protect a unique marine environment, while allowing recreational and commercial fishing as well as aquaculture and pearling to occur.”

For the first time ever in Western Australia, there will be a zone which provides for a ‘wilderness’ fishing experience where recreational fishers (including charter boats) must either catch and release or eat their catch before leaving the zone. Commercial fishing and other commercial activities will not be permitted nor will spearfishing.

Pearling operations will be recognised in a designated zone and some commercial fishing operations will phased out, with 48 % of the marine park closed to commercial trawl fishing and 23 % closed to all forms of commercial fishing. If appropriate, compensation will be paid to affected fishing operations.

Camden Sound Marine Park will contain a range of coral reef communities at Wildcat Reef and in the vicinity of Champagny and Augustus islands.

The marine park will also be home to seagrass and macroalgal communities, extensive mangrove forests of the St. George Basin and lower Prince Regent River, tidal flats, and a habitat for dugong, sawfish and dolphins.

The marine park will be jointly managed by the Department of Environment and Conservation and the traditional owners, including the Dambimangari and Uunguu people.

The Government has committed $10 Million over four years to protecting and managing Camden Sound Marine Park, with ongoing funding of $2.3 Million a year from 2015-16.

The marine park will be created by mid-2012 followed by gazettal of the zone boundaries later in the year.

Fact File

  • Camden Sound marine park will have 2 sanctuary zones, 3 special purpose zones and 4 general use zones
  • The marine park is one of 4 being created in WA’s Kimberley region under the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy
  • Final management plan for Camden Sound Marine Park to be released later this year

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