Days left to have your say on proposed Buccaneer Archipelago marine parks

Recfishwest is urging fishers to get their voices heard and get their submissions in to the proposed Buccaneer Archipelago marine parks public comment process before the June 11 deadline.

Recfishwest has been working closely with the Broome and Derby fishing communities since draft management plans for three marine parks in the Buccaneer Archipelago were released in December last year.

As they stand, the current proposals have caused a great deal of concern among the local fishing communities, as the planned zoning scheme would effectively remove access to 95 per cent of the safest and most valuable fishing spots in the archipelago.

READ MORE ABOUT THE PROPOSED MARINE PARKS HERE

It’s critical recfishers ensure decision-makers understand how important the Buccaneer Archipelago is for fishing experiences. Picture: Recfishwest

“Fishing is at the heart of these communities and it is clear to us from what we’ve heard taking away fishing access to these areas will threaten the fabric of community life,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.

“This makes it really important for all local fishers and, anyone who has a vested interest in protecting fishing access in marine parks, to get their submissions in before the public comment period closes on 11 June.

“The best chance we are going to have as a fishing community of getting the best outcome for all stakeholders is by making sure decision-makers understand how important the Buccaneer Archipelago is for our fishing experiences.”

A spirited response from Broome and Derby fishing communities

Dr Rowland said Recfishwest has been really encouraged by the spirited response from the Broome and Derby fishing communities.

“I would like to personally thank them for the welcome we have been given when we’ve been in town and the impassioned feedback we have received,” he said.

Fishing experiences like this in truly breath-taking sea country makes it easy to see why Derby and Broome fishers value fishing in the Buccaneer Archipelago so highly. Picture: Recfishwest

Some of the consistent feedback Recfishwest heard includes:

  • The Buccaneer Archipelago and surrounding waters are a special place for fishing;
  • The draft plans propose to lock fishers out of 95 per cent of their most valuable fishing spots;
  • As an investment of taxpayers’ money in conserving the things we all care about, marine parks should result in positive outcomes for everyone;
  • Local fishers and fishing clubs are highly supportive of Traditional Owners and traditional knowledge playing a leading role in the management of these areas;
  • Fishers are more than happy to avoid areas where cultural activities requiring privacy are taking place;
  • Recreational fishing should be embraced within the park as it is a low-impact activity which can provide an excellent opportunity to collect additional data and engage park users about cultural values.

These are just some of the many comments Recfishwest heard, which it will use as the core for its own submission to DBCA and the Traditional Owners who co-designed the draft management plans.

The archipelago offers a wilderness fishing experience quite like no other. Picture: Recfishwest

You can read the broader summary of what we have heard from local fishers here

Simplifying the submission process

Another recurring theme from the local communities has been how complex the submission process is.

So to assist fishers making their submission, Recfishwest has developed:

  • A webpage you can click here to access with general guidelines to assist with creating a submission and a step-by-step guide through DBCA’s online submission process.
  • A submission template, link below, to set out a format to help fishers develop their submission.
  • You can also contact Recfishwest if you would like any additional guidance in making a submission.

Find Recfishwest’s submission template here

Dr Rowland said Recfishwest will continue to work hard to do everything we can to ensure a good outcome for the fishing community.

“We fully understand what is at stake here and how important it is for the local community to be able to maintain fishing access to many of the areas from where, under the current proposals, we would be locked out,” he said.

“There will be a way to go after the public comment period has closed and rest assured, as your peak body, we will continue to ensure the views of fishers are well represented to the end of this process.

Recfishwest Operations Lead Matt Gillett at Buccaneer Archipelago. Picture: Andrew Rowland / Recfishwest

“But we really need every one of you to make your voice heard on this through your submission, to get the best outcome we can for all involved.”

“If you’re not a local fisher it’s still important to have your say, Dr Rowland added.

“These management plans were developed with limited consideration of the things that are important for recreational fishing and it’s likely to set a precedent for future marine parks designs,” he said.

Be sure to make your submission before the public comment period closes on 11 June.