WA Premier Mark McGowan and Environment Minister Stephen Dawson will today unveil a target to create five million hectares of new WA national and marine parks and reserves over the next five years – increasing Western Australia’s conservation estate by 20 per cent.
The “Plan for Our Parks” initiative will see new and expanded parks from the Kimberley in the north, across WA’s Midwest rangelands, through areas from Perth to Bunbury, to the South-West forests and a potential new marine park along the southern coastline.
“We understand that the government has earmarked marine areas off the South Coast, possibly around Esperance, including the Recherche Archipelago for assessment options for new marine parks,” commented John Harrison, CEO of the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC).
“The fishing industry along the South Coast is already under intense pressure through loss of access to fishing grounds affecting the viability of a number of fishing family businesses. These includes a number of existing extensive closures including sea lion protection zones and commonwealth marine parks.
“It is therefore imperative that the fishing industry is closely involved in the planning process from the very beginning for any additional marine parks. It is encouraging to see that good process will be the driver of this increase in conservation estate,” he said.
Mr Harrison concluded by saying that the potential new conservation estate has the probability to not just affect industry, but the community who rely on fishers to supply and enjoy local seafood.
“It’s important that any potential damage to our current sustainable, safe fishing industry, is minimised, as it is relied heavily upon by seafood consumers and the hospitality industry. The state government also needs to be mindful that the Western Australian fishing industry provides employment particularly in regional areas,” he said.
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