Fishing bodies angry over park plans
Govt announces marine conservation area off 80 Mile Beach. Picture: Supplied

The Barnett Government failed to notify WA's peak fishing bodies about plans for a marine park around the Kimberley's Horizontal Falls, prompting claims it had ignored them for political purposes.

Premier Colin Barnett sought to boost his green credentials yesterday when he jetted into Broome to announce the Government would create a massive marine park at Talbot Bay near the famous site.

Today, Environment Minister Bill Marmion added to the announcement by revealing he had officially gazetted another marine conservation area off 80 Mile Beach between Broome and Port Hedland.

However, both the commercial and recreational fishing sectors confirmed they had not been told about the Horizontal Falls park plan before Mr Barnett unveiled it.

This was despite the fact the park would be likely to ban fishing in certain areas and restrict the types of fishing that could occur in others.

WA Fishing Industry Council chairman Brad Adams said the failure, while typical of recent years, was disappointing and smacked of political opportunism at the expense of proper process.

Although the Government had yet to outline where it would forbid fishing in the proposed new marine park, Mr Adams said commercial fishermen would be likely to bear the brunt of any such measures.

"We are an expendable industry because we don't add enough to Gross State Product any more," Mr Adams said.

Mr Adams also questioned the selection of the Horizontal Falls area for a marine park, saying the decision appeared to have been arbitrary rather than based on scientific evidence.

Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Rowland was less critical but agreed it would have been better if the Government had given the group advanced warning.

"Up until yesterday's announcement we hadn't heard anything so, yes, it was a bit of a surprise," Dr Rowland said.

Mr Marmion, touting the Government's record of creating four marine parks in its first term in office, said 80 Mile Beach would initially need $5.3 million in funding plus $1.4 million a year thereafter.

Stretching about 230km in State-waters between Cape Missiessy in the north and about 30km west of Cape Keraudren in the south, the park will have three sanctuary, or no-take, zones.

"It shows just how serious the Liberal National Government is about protecting one of the last great wildernesses," Mr Marmion said.

"80 Mile Beach is a popular destination for visitors to the Kimberley to enjoy fishing, camping, four-wheel-driving and wildlife viewing.

"Key fishing areas for the world-renowned South See Pearl industry have been kept open for pearlers, and recreational fishers will continue to have access to 75 per cent of the marine park, including the popular beach area adjacent to 80 Mile Beach Caravan Park."

The West Australian

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