Top protection for Kimberley coast

annabelleKimberley News

Dugong Bay
Dugong Bay

Dugong Bay – image © Richard Costin | Kimberley Media

GRAHAM LLOYD From: The Australian January 29, 2013 12:00AM

THE Horizontal Waterfalls, which appears with a falling 10m Kimberley tide, will be the focus of a new national park to extend protection for one of the last great marine wilderness areas.

Two new marine parks will extend one already declared at Camden Sound, the biggest humpback whale calving area in the southern hemisphere, on Western Australia’s West Kimberley coast.

Premier Colin Barnett announced the new marine parks yesterday, shortly before attending a fiery meeting in Broome where he was reportedly heckled by 120 demonstrators opposed to Woodside’s proposed $30 billion James Price Point gas hub, located south of the marine park areas.

Environment groups welcomed the new marine parks but remained opposed to industrial development at James Price Point, which they fear could open the Kimberley to widespread industrial development.

The west Kimberley coast has been described as the one of the most biologically significant regions of the world.

Kimberley Marine Research Station research officer Ali McCarthy said exploration of the area’s full marine biodiversity had only just begun. “The joint management with traditional owners provides exciting opportunities to combine contemporary scientific and indigenous ecological knowledge,” she said.

Both parks will be Class A, which affords them the highest possible protection.

The Horizontal Falls, which are formed by the rush of 10m tides over coral formations exposed at low tide, will be protected by a marine national park covering 160sq km.

A surrounding area of 3000 sq km will be protected as a mixed-use marine park.

“This spectacular and rugged area contains some of the most unique tourism features in the world and the growth in tourism . . . provides an opportunity to further protect the region’s social, economic and environmental values,” Mr Barnett said.

The state government said the new parks would not affect existing pearling areas.

Koolan and Cockatoo islands were excluded because they had existing mines.

Final park boundaries would be decided after negotiations with the traditional Dambimangari owners and other stakeholders.

View a gallery of images of Talbot and Dugong Bays.