Recfishwest has praised the Broome and Derby fishing community and Traditional Owners for their role in reining back original plans for the Buccaneer Archipelago marine parks following the State Government’s and Traditional Owners’ joint announcement of the revised final plans on Sunday 31 July.
Announced just days before Christmas in 2020, the original plans would have locked fishers from 95 per cent of the most valuable fishing waters in and around the Buccaneer Archipelago.
However, following serious concerns from the local fishing community, Traditional Owner groups met with local fishing representatives in October last year to discuss cultural and fishing values.
The meeting, together with submissions from fishers resulted in a revised plan announced on Sunday which maintained some fishing access to important areas such as the Inland Sea, Strickland Bay, the Graveyards and several creek systems north of Derby.
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “While certainly not the greatest outcome for fishers, it could have been a lot worse and the final management plans to be implemented allow for continuing access to key fishing locations which would have been off limits under the original draft.
“The Bardi, Jawi, Mayala and Dambimangari Traditional Owners and members of the local fishing community, particularly the Broome and Mary Island fishing clubs, should be congratulated for working together in a meaningful and respectful way to achieve a more balanced outcome than the stark scenario we were all confronted with back in 2020.
“All the fishing club members and local fishers who took the time to fill in DBCA’s consultation survey also deserve credit – their input has undoubtedly helped achieve a better outcome.”
However, the final plans could have been greatly improved with a more inclusive process from the outset, and an opportunity was missed to set up an early foundation for collaboration between Traditional Owner groups and fishers developing these marine parks together.
A failure to understand how fishers use and value the area
“Recfishwest, along with local fishers are supportive of Traditional Owners and traditional knowledge playing a greater role in the protection and management of these areas,” said Andrew.
“The traditional knowledge of the Buccaneer’s sea country and aquatic environments has been built up over thousands of years. This places Traditional Owners in a strong position to protect sea country through management approaches that integrate this knowledge.
“We were disappointed that the original plans lacked the recognition of important family-friendly experiences such as fishing for mangrove jack, fingermark and barramundi in the creeks and nearshore waters. This omission highlights how the process was flawed in failing to properly understand how fishers use and value the area.
Recfishwest is pleased to see a change of consultation approach for marine parks currently being planned for the south coast and for the extension of the Marmion Marine Park in the Perth metro region.
The Fisheries Minister’s commitment to providing a support package to fishers and charter operators impacted by the Buccaneer Archipelago marine parks was also noted by Recfishwest.
“What is needed in the future, however,” said Andrew,” is meaningful recognition by Government marine park planners of recreational fishing’s importance to coastal communities and visiting fishers’ lifestyle and culture.
“The aim must be improving fishing experiences rather than simply locking fishers out of key fishing locations that have been enjoyed by generations of West Aussies.”