In 2019 the Western Australian (WA) State Government announced Plan for Our Parks, an initiative to create five million hectares of new national parks, marine parks and conservation reserves by 2024. As part of this initiative, a marine park on the south coast was identified as a key priority.

The WA Auditor General’s report on the Management of Marine Parks and Reserves noted that the South Coast and Eucla Bioregions are under-represented in WA’s existing network of marine parks and reserves. There is currently one relatively small marine park in State waters on the south coast - the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park (WNIMP). The WNIMP includes the only permanently open lagoonal estuary on the south coast, however, doesn’t extend into coastal waters.

The creation of a south coast marine park will ensure representation of the South Coast and Eucla Bioregions within WA’s network of marine parks and reserves, provide protection for important marine habitats and biodiversity and make a significant contribution to the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas, while allowing for ongoing sustainable use.

Planning for the proposed south coast marine park is in the early stages. Consultation will be carried out with stakeholders and local communities on the south coast to discuss the proposal.

The aims of the initial consultation are to:

  • determine the key issues affecting communities and stakeholders regarding the proposed south coast marine park
  • receive input from communities and stakeholders regarding the location of the proposed south coast marine park
  • listen to how communities and stakeholders would like to be consulted during the planning process.

A study area boundary (i.e. indicative outer boundary) for the proposed south coast marine park has not yet been determined and will be developed following consultation with stakeholders and local communities. As a starting point, the areas identified within the South Coast and Eucla Bioregions by the Marine Parks and Reserves Selection Working Group (MPRSWG) in their report, A Representative Marine Reserve System for Western Australia, will be used during consultation with local communities and stakeholders. The areas recommended for marine reservation in the report were identified based on their conservation, scientific and public recreation values. More information regarding these areas is provided below.

Map

Map of areas recommended for marine reservation on the south coast by the Marine Parks and Reserves Selection Working Group (PDF 2.4MB)

Site-based information (listed from west to east)

View site-based information at dbca.wa.gov.au/parks-and-wildlife-service/proposed-south-coast-marine-park-locations.

    Attend a community forum

    The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions will continue to keep local communities informed of upcoming forums and opportunities to provide feedback regarding the south coast marine park proposal when consultation resumes.

     

    Frequently asked questions
     

    What is a marine park?

    Marine parks are created to help conserve marine habitats and biodiversity, as well as cultural heritage values, while at the same time allowing a range of activities, such as fishing, diving, boating and tourism.

    Marine parks provide a place to showcase our distinct marine life relatively free from human impacts. Marine parks also provide opportunities for scientists to help improve our understanding of the marine environment and for marine park managers to educate users about the unique values of the marine park. 

    The State Government is progressively creating a representative system of marine parks and reserves in WA. The long-term goal is to provide protection for all types of marine habitats and biodiversity using a system that is ‘comprehensive, adequate and representative’. Marine parks in WA are created under the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984 and are currently vested in the Conservation and Parks Commission.

    Why is the south coast marine park being proposed?

    Marine parks are fundamentally about conserving the marine environment for people to continue to use and enjoy into the future. While WA’s oceans, rivers and estuaries are some of the healthiest in the world the pressures on these areas are growing. By conserving and maintaining healthy marine ecosystems we can make them more resilient to increasing threats such as pollution, introduced marine pests, overuse of resources and climate change.

    Marine parks and reserves have progressively been established in WA since 1987. While significant progress has been made across the State, the south coast is under-represented in WA’s existing network of marine parks and reserves. There is currently one relatively small marine park in State waters on the south coast – the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park (WNIMP).

    The WNIMP includes the only permanently open lagoonal estuary on the south coast, however, it doesn’t extend into coastal waters. The creation of a south coast marine park will ensure representation of the South Coast and Eucla Bioregions within WA’s network of marine parks and reserves, provide protection for important marine habitats and biodiversity, and make a significant contribution to the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas, while allowing for ongoing sustainable use.

    Where will the proposed south coast marine park be located?

    Planning for the proposed south coast marine park is in the early stages and a study area boundary (i.e. indicative outer boundary) will be developed following consultation with stakeholders and local communities.

    As a starting point, the areas identified within the South Coast and Eucla Bioregions by the Marine Parks and Reserves Selection Working Group in their report, A Representative Marine Reserve System for Western Australia, will be used during consultation with stakeholders and local communities.

    These areas were identified for marine reservation based on their conservation, scientific and public recreation values.

    Find out more at dbca.wa.gov.au/parks-and-wildlife-service/proposed-south-coast-marine-park-locations.

    What is the purpose of marine park zones?

    Marine parks in WA are multiple-use areas, meaning they have different zones allowing different types of activities. Marine park zoning plans define what activities can occur within each zone to conserve marine habitats and biodiversity and manage potentially conflicting activities.

    Zoning is an important management tool used to conserve the values of the marine park that people enjoy. By establishing zones where extractive activities are prohibited, scientists can carry out long-term monitoring of plants and animals relatively free from human impacts. These zones provide important reference areas which can be compared with areas where extractive activities are allowed or where environmental impacts may be occurring.

    What are the different types of zones within a marine park?

    The different types of zones within a WA marine park include:

    • General use zone – zoned to conserve the natural environment while allowing commercial and recreational activities which do not significantly impact on the values of the marine park.
    • Recreation zone – zoned for recreational purposes, including recreational fishing where it is compatible with the specific recreational purpose of the zone. Commercial fishing is prohibited.
    • Special purpose zone – zoned for a specific conservation purpose, such as protection of marine habitats or cultural heritage values. Commercial and recreational activities which are compatible with the specific conservation purpose of the zone may be allowed.
    • Sanctuary zone – zoned for conservation purposes, so all plants and animals are protected. Sanctuary zones are ‘look but don’t take’ and the only zone where all types of fishing and collecting is prohibited. People can still enjoy nature-based recreation, such as diving, snorkelling, boating and nature appreciation within sanctuary zones.

    Will recreational fishing be allowed in the proposed south coast marine park?

    Yes, you will be able to continue to enjoy fishing in the proposed south coast marine park, however, fishing and collecting will be restricted in some areas (i.e. sanctuary zones) to protect marine biodiversity.

    The proposed south coast marine park will be carefully designed to minimise impacts to recreational fishers, while helping to ensure a healthy marine environment that will support sustainable fishing into the future.

    Will commercial fishing be allowed in the proposed south coast marine park?

    Yes, commercial fishing is important to the region’s economy and commercial activities that are ecologically sustainable will be allowed within the marine park. Commercial fishing will be restricted in some zones (e.g. sanctuary zones, recreation zones) to protect marine habitats and biodiversity.

    The proposed south coast marine park will be carefully designed to minimise impacts to commercial fishers and incorporate existing restrictions into the zoning plan where possible. The marine park planning process will consider the cumulative impacts that recent restrictions to fishing operations have had on commercial fishers on the south coast, including Australian sea lion Gillnet Exclusion Zones, the creation of the South-west Marine Parks Network (i.e. Australian Marine Parks) and the gazettal of the Ngari Capes Marine Park zoning scheme.

    Commercial fishers are encouraged to attend consultation meetings and provide input during the planning process, including making a submission when the indicative management plan is released for public comment.

    Commercial fishers who hold an authorisation and suffer a loss arising from the creation of a marine park in WA may apply for compensation under the Fishing and Related Industries Compensation (Marine Reserves) Act 1997 and Fish Resources Management Act 1994.

    Who will manage the proposed south coast marine park?

    It is intended that the proposed south coast marine park will be jointly managed between the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and Traditional Owners.

    DBCA also works closely with other State Government agencies, such as the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, to manage marine protected areas in WA.

    What consultation will be carried out?

    Consultation with Traditional Owners and stakeholders regarding the proposed south coast marine park has already begun. DBCA will be holding further meetings with stakeholders and local communities in regional centres including Albany, Esperance, Bremer Bay, Hopetoun, Denmark and Augusta throughout the planning process.

    Commercial and recreational fishers, environment and tourism groups, industry, other government agencies and local communities will all be invited to provide input during the planning process.

    Once an indicative (i.e. draft) joint management plan has been finalised it will be released for public comment for a period of three months. Stakeholders and local communities will have an opportunity to make a submission regarding the management arrangements within the proposed south coast marine park during this time.

    What is the difference between the Australian Marine Parks off the coast of south-west Western Australia and the proposed south coast marine park?

    The current Australian Marine Parks off the coast of south-west Western Australia are managed by the Australian Government. They are located in Commonwealth waters which extend from the limit of State waters to the limit of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

    The proposed south coast marine park will be located in State waters – the area of ocean extending from the shoreline to the limit of State waters. It is intended that it will be jointly managed by DBCA and Traditional Owners.

    The different marine environments between the Australian Marine Parks and the proposed south coast marine park – i.e. deeper offshore waters in Australian Marine Parks and shallower coastal waters in the proposed south coast marine park – means that Australian Marine Parks conserve different marine ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity to the proposed south coast marine park. More information about Australian Marine Parks can be found at parksaustralia.gov.au/marine.

    More information

    Page reviewed 17 Apr 2020