Commonwealth Marine Park Review – Delivers a Mixed Bag for Fishers

Recfishwest support marine parks that are created for the purpose of recreation, science, education, conservation and enhanced visitor experiences.  We believe marine park zoning must be underpinned by science and should be implemented using simple, practical management that is risk-based, transparent and subject to regular review.

Recfishwest believes that recreational fishing is largely compatible with the conservation objectives of marine parks and that it is an activity that must be recognised as a key value when formulating management plans.

This latest report following an independent review of the planned Commonwealth Marine Park Network marks 18 years since Australia made the initial commitment to develop a Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network (CMRN). Recfishwest have represented recreational fishing interests throughout the whole process and have invested a significant amount of time and effort to ensure the values of recreational fishers have been represented at every opportunity.

As part of this latest review Recfishwest met with  the independent review Bioregional Advisory Panels and provided a submission identifying several significant areas of contention for the recreational fishing community.

Recfishwest believe that unless recreational fishing poses an identified risk to the conservation objectives of a marine reserve there is no logical rationale for excluding fishers from any area.  Restrictions on recreational fishing should be avoided where possible and marine park management should aim to improve recreational fishing experiences with no net loss of amenity.

The outcomes of the latest review are a mixed bag. There are some very important wins for recreational fishing while other areas that we believe needed to be changed have remained untouched.

Some of the most pleasing recommendations from the review include changes which will increase fishing access in important areas in Perth, Dampier and the Kimberley.

Perth Canyon:

Zoning before the Review:

perth canyon old

Independent Review zoning recommendations:

Perth Canyon new

The review recognised the Rottnest Trench as important game fishing and charter fishing area and Recfishwest is glad to see recommended zoning changes that would ensure access is maintained to this important game fishing location.


Zoning before the Review:

Dampier Old

Independent Review zoning recommendations:

Dampier New

The review appeared to have listened to our concerns and have recommended the sanctuary zone be moved east where its impact on recreational fishing will be reduced and be replaced with a Benthic Protection Zone which will not significantly impact on fishing activities North of Legendre Island.


Zone before the review:

Kimberley Old

Independent Review zoning recommendations:

Kimberley New

Recfishwest argued against the placement of the southern most sanctuary zone within this reserve as recreational fishing is common within 30nm of the coastline from Cape Leveque to Broome and within 90nm of Broome itself. Fishing in this area is likely to increase in popularity with the recent announcement of the sealing of the access road to Cape Leveque.

Some issues Recfishwest raised with the Independent Review Panel  were not solved to Recfishwest’s satisfaction and represents a missed opportunity to minimise impacts on the fishing community while a number of other marine parks remain unchanged. The Independent Review has also recommended zoning changes for  areas around Two Rocks, Geographe Bay, the South-west Capes region and Bremer Bay.

Two Rocks:

Zone before the review:

Two Rocks Old

Independent Review zoning recommendations:

Two Rocks New

The review report has recommended the size of the sanctuary zone in this reserve be increased for the benefit of a few,  further restricting access to this popular fishing location on the door step of the metropolitan area.

Geographe Bay:

Zone before the review:

Geographe Bay Old

Independent Review zoning recommendations:

Geographe Bay New

The review has recommended straightening the boundary of the sanctuary zone to better align with state based marine parks however the rationale for maintaining two no fishing areas that contain similar habitat has not been justified.

The Capes Region:

Zone before the review:

Capes region_South West Corner Old

Independent Review zoning recommendations:

Capes region_South West Corner New

In failing to recommend an alignment of the State and Commonwealth sanctuary zone in the Capes region the review has missed an opportunity to simplify management arrangements.

Bremer Bay:

Zone before review:

Bremer Bay old

Independent Review zoning recommendations:

Bremer Bay New

This reserve is located in-between two popular tourist towns that both rely on recreational fishing tourism.  The review has recommended increasing the no fishing area within this reserve by 64%.

Recfishwest recognise some effort has been made to reduce the impact on recreational fishing by slightly increasing access to some of the important inshore areas that are regularly accessed by recreational fishers.

Recfishwest will be making a submission on this latest report and are hopeful that this long drawn out process will finally be able to move forward in the near future.

For anyone wanting to make a submission on the latest report you should also include comments on matters you believe should be considered in developing draft management plans.  A further public consultation period will occur once the draft management plans have been developed. The easiest way to make a submission is to email Submission must be received by 11 October 2016.  To view a copy of the latest report click here.