Comment on proposed Camden Sound Marine Park

Save The Kimberley, 26 Jan 2011

Comments on the proposed marine park indicative management plan closed Feb 1st 2011. See

Draft Submission Regarding the Proposed Camden Sound Marine Park indicative management plan 2010

Save The Kimberley is broadly supportive of protected areas in the Kimberley as one of a number of strategies to protect the Kimberley. We are however NOT supportive of the indicative management plan for the proposed Camden Sound Marine Park.

Our view is that the whole of the Kimberley’s waters should be declared a marine park in light of the outstanding natural and cultural values of the region.

In the long term protection of the natural and cultural land and seascapes of the Kimberley will be of greater value to Australia and the world than short term industrialization and pollution. ‘Greenwash’ parks and unnecessary polluting industry are not the future that one of our greatest natural icons deserves.

Our concerns regarding the indicative plan can be summarized under the following three subject areas:

  1. The political nature of the timing and intent of the Camden Sound Marine Park declaration clearly designed as an offset/distraction from the proposed development of a major LNG processing industrial hub at James Price Point in the Kimberley.

  1. The insufficient size and location of the outer park boundaries which omit important habitats.

  1. The proposed zoning fails to provide adequate protection for habitat and wildlife within the park.

1. Political nature of the timing and intent of the Camden Sound Marine Park

This park is not the real deal. This park is clearly intended as an offset and distraction from the environmentally and culturally unacceptable proposal to build a massive industrial hub on the Kimberley Coast at James Price Point on the Dampier Peninsula.

The timing of this announcement coincides with the environmental assessment of the James Price Point proposal, which the WA State Government is the proponent for. This proposal is heavily opposed by Save The Kimberley, Australia’s leading environment groups, many Traditional custodians and large numbers of the Australian public.

Save The Kimberley asks the following question: If the Camden Sound Marine Park announcement is not politically motivated then why have the 80 Mile Beach and Capes Marine parks not been progressed? These potential marine parks have been ‘ready to go’ since prior to the current state Government coming into power, but have been shelved under the Barnett Government.

The political readjustment of established DEC marine protection priorities and the advancement of this proposed Park at the expense of marine protection in other parts of the state highlights the inability of the Government to manage the inherent conflict of interest between the State Governments’ dual role as both proposed industrial hub proponent and environmental regulator.

Save the Kimberley concurs with the following comment “There is a fundamental issue about the credibility and effectiveness of protected areas at stake here. Conservation groups have been fighting to see the creation of protected areas on land and water for well over 50 years. It is a tough call, but most would rather see no progress on this front rather than see the entire notion and purpose of protected areas be undermined through the creation of marine parks that are wide open for damaging and polluting industries and activities. If the government wants to claim ‘green credits’ by creating new parks, they need to be fair dinkum parks, not parks for mining and [commercial] fishing.”

The establishment of this park so far has been characterized by a lack of consultation and has been rushed by politically motivated decision making.

2. Insufficient size and location of the outer park boundaries

  • The Camden Sound Park current boundaries fail to include numerous high conservation value areas. Crucially only a small proportion of the calving ‘nursery area’ for the Humpback whales is included in the park, despite protection of the whale breeding and calving area being a headline in Government promotion of the Camden Sound Marine Park announcement. The breeding and calving area extends from south of Broome up the Dampier Peninsula and out to Adele Island and then across to Camden Sound, only a small proportion of this area will receive any protection under this proposal. Save the Kimberley recommends the expansion of the Marine Park to include all of the whale calving grounds from South of Broome to Camden sound including Adele Island and the Bucaneer Archpelago.

  • The proposed park borders exclude the iconic Buccaneer Archipelago and key estuary environments like Talbot Bay (home to the tourisim icon of horizontal waterfall), Collier Bay including Walcott Inlet and Secure Bay, Doubtful Bay and George Water . As per long-standing recommendations by Government departmental reports, independent scientific advice and conservation groups these areas should be included within any marine protected area declared in this region.

3. Zoning fails to provide adequate protection for habitat and wildlife

  • The zoning arrangements fail to live up to established benchmarks. Only 13% of the marine park is proposed to be fully protected as ‘sanctuary zone’. The proposed Camden Sound Marine Park falls far short of benchmarks such as the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park (33% sanctuary) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (34% sanctuary).
  • Current zoning arrangements allow for full access for commercial fishing and mining in general use zones. This means that damaging fishing practices such as trawl netting, commercial take of fish and polluting mining are allowed within metres of the Montgomery reef. This makes a mockery of the sanctuary and wilderness fishing zoning of this world class coral reef. Save The Kimberley recommends expansion of the sanctuary and Wilderness Fishing zones (and expansion of the park’s Southern boundary) to better buffer the Montgomery reef sanctuary zone.
  • On a positive note we support the establishment of IUCN category 1b wilderness protection zones to complement IUCN 1a (sanctuary) zonings. The proposed wilderness fishing area should be renamed, and regulations checked for compliance with IUCN classification. The inclusion of Wilderness protection areas should be expanded to better buffer all IUCN 1a areas.
  • In light of the natural values, tourism potential, cultural importance and proximity of a terrestrial protected area Save The Kimberley recommends establishing a new sanctuary zone for the Prince Regent River (including St George Basin). This will protect the constricted bay of the Prince Regent River, the population of Australian Snubfin Dolphins and crocodile habitats within the Prince Regent River and maximize land-sea connectivity between the Prince Regent River Nature Reserve and estuary environments.
  • Establish a new sanctuary zone from Kuri Bay to Deception Bay to protect the Australian Snubfin Dolphin and Indo-pacific Dolphin populations at both locations, the turtle nesting sites within the Slate Islands, and the Sampson Inlet and Deception Bay estuaries.
  • Upgrade the proposed Special Purpose Zone (whale conservation) to sanctuary zone to increase the level of protection for the key whale calving area.
  • Champagny Island: Expand the proposed Champagny Island Sanctuary Zone to establish some protection for the banks and shoals north of Augustus and Jungulu Islands and the Augustus Island Channel and increase the level of protection for the Camden Sound submerged valley.
  • We would like to emphasize the importance of Montgomery Reef and the inadequacy of proposed arrangements. The unique reef and estuarine environments in this area are undoubtedly interconnected and protection of these environments must be complementary. Only the reef itself is given sanctuary status and the outer boundaries of the park to not provide an adequate buffer. We recommend that the outer boundaries and sanctuary/wilderness fishing zones be extended north encompassing Hall Point along the shoreline (including all the estuary environment in and adjoining Collier Bay, including Talbot bay) right the way around to near Koolan Island.


Save The Kimberley recommends that the WA State Government go back to the drawing board with this proposal. Our detailed recommendations are above – we advise the expansion and rezoning of the park. We would support this being undertaken as part of the declaration of all State waters in the Kimberley as a multiple use marine park and the advancement of world heritage listing for the region.

We are disappointed that the agenda of the Government seems to be less about conservation and more about ‘smoke and mirrors’ and ‘greenwash’ as they progress large scale industrial development under the cover of the announcement of a marine park that is more about mining and commercial fishing than genuine conservation. This would set a disturbing precedent and potentially sets back the protection of the Kimberley further than it advances it.

  1. I am dismayed to learn that this present marine parks proposal is seriously fragmented in the coastal country it seeks to protect. The most glaring omission that disturbs me is that of the area north of Broome – ‘Walmadan’ (James Price Point)reef that flanks rare and endangered monsoon vine thicket area, whose waters are significant humpback whale nursery habitat and essential link in annual migration path. This area’s beaches are regularly used turtle nesting sites between October and March, and dugong are observed here. The coral reef that is exposed at very low spring tides are something to behold. At present this area is under grave threat from the proposed Woodside/WA State govt’s plans for major industry in the form of an on-land gas processing hub that would entirely sabotage the marine habitat of this area and threaten other southern reaches of the coast from the dredging required. This area desperately needs protection.

    Comment by Jeanne Browne on January 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm

  2. Ban all gas hubs on the Dampier Peninsular. Keep this area pristine for future generations.

    Comment by Cheryl Bell on January 31, 2011 at 12:39 am

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