Traditional owners and the State Government today celebrated a milestone towards the creation of proposed marine parks in the Buccaneer Archipelago, with the release of indicative joint management plans for public comment.
The proposed marine parks will cover about 660,000 hectares in the west Kimberley within Bardi, Jawi, Mayala and Dambimangari sea country.
The Buccaneer Archipelago has Western Australia’s highest concentration of traditional owner communities living adjacent to an existing or proposed marine park and dependent on those waters for their food supply and traditional practices.
For the first time, proposed marine parks are being co-designed between traditional owners and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. Three indicative joint management plans have been released today, one for each traditional owner group’s sea country.
Due to COVID-19 and the new co-design model, the public comment period has been increased to five months and will involve extensive consultation with stakeholders, including the commercial and recreational fishing industries.
In addition, the three traditional owner groups joined Environment Minister Stephen Dawson today to announce that agreement has been reached on Indigenous Land Use Agreements to enable the joint management and joint vesting of the marine park.
The proposed marine parks are a key commitment of the McGowan Government’s Plan for Our Parks initiative, which aims to create five million hectares of new national and marine parks and reserves in WA by 2024.
The public comment period is open until May 21, 2021. For more information or to have your say, visit https://www.dbca.wa.gov.au/haveyoursay
As stated by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
“The Buccaneer Archipelago has extraordinary natural values including hundreds of islands surrounded by fringing coral reefs and extensive seagrass beds, providing an important food source for species such as turtles and dugongs.
“I thank the traditional owners for their extensive work on the journey to create these proposed marine parks.
“Protecting environmental and cultural values has been key to the design process, and I encourage everyone to have their say so we can create a marine park for all.
“We are now embarking on genuine and meaningful engagement with commercial and recreational fishing, pearling and aquaculture sectors, as the zoning schemes are not final and we expect to negotiate changes to strike a balance between traditional owner, fishing and other needs.
“The marine park will not be created until agreement is reached on the final joint management plan and zoning schemes, and stakeholder and public input into the consultation process will inform final marine park design.”
As stated by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
“Today is a celebration of the significant achievements of the Bardi and Jawi, Mayala and Dambimangari traditional owners in working together with the State Government to design and progress the proposed marine parks.
“The aspirations of traditional owners have been fundamental to the planning process and have ensured their stories, culture and vision for strong and healthy country are protected for current and future generations.”