The State Government’s bid to ease community anger over industrial projects in the Kimberley has continued with the creation of a new marine park at Eighty Mile Beach.
The area, situated on the coastline between Broome and Port Hedland, will be protected by a new marine park which extends almost 210,000 hectares from 30km west of Cape Keraudren in the south to 10km south of Cape Missiessy in the north-east.
Over four years $5.3 million has been committed to establishing the park, which will cost $1.4 million a year to maintain.
Environment Minister Bill Marmion says about 70 per cent of the marine park will be for general use, allowing commercial and recreational activities, including pearl and recreational fishing, to take place.
About a quarter of the park’s key habitats will be protected in sanctuary zones, Mr Marmion said.
It follows yesterday’s announcement that the world-renowned Horizontal Falls at Talbot Bay will be part of a new national park to protect its natural beauty and cultural significance.
With the State election on March 9, Premier Colin Barnett is facing vocal opposition from residents in Broome and its surrounds about Woodside Petroleum’s proposed $30 billion James Price Point gas hub.
Mr Barnett was heckled by angry protesters when he arrived in the town on Sunday for a pre-election visit, eventually promising to hold a public forum to discuss the controversial project.
World Wildlife Fund Australia spokesperson Paul Gamblin says the new park is desperately needed.
“Eighty Mile Beach provides vital habitat for threatened species like turtles, dugong and sawfish,” Mr Gamblin says.
“With drilling rigs and mining equipment now becoming a regular sight in the Kimberley, there is great concern about the region’s future. The new parks must signal a beginning of much greater focus on protection, rather than exploitation.”