Dedicated Derby fishers hit the road to tell marine park planners how important recfishing in the Buccaneer Archipelago is for their community

A group of Derby fishers took two days out of their busy lives to make a mid-week round trip of 440 km to understand better and provide input into the proposed Buccaneer Archipelago Marine Parks in the Kimberley.

The passionate anglers from Derby’s Mary Island Fishing Club made the two-and-a-half-hour road trip from Derby to Broome to attend an information session held by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), as well as Mayala, Dambeemangarddee and Badi Jawi Traditional Owners who are the co-designers of the proposed marine park.

The marine park proposals are currently subject to a public comment process until 21 May and the information session provided the opportunity for DBCA and the TOs to explain the rationale behind the marine park and the zoning scheme at its heart.

Members of the Mary Island Fishing Club discuss with Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland where the best fishing locations can be found in the Buccaneer Archipelago and why they want any marine park there to be a “people’s park” for everyone to enjoy.


In its current form, the proposed marine park zoning has raised concerns from members of the Broome and Derby fishing communities around the potential loss of access to a significant amount of recreational fishing grounds in the Archipelago.

The remote waters of the archipelago provide some of the best and most spectacular fishing locations in the region, as well as a haven from some of the huge tidal flows and big seas that run in that part of the Kimberley.

“It’s just great to see that level of involvement and commitment from grassroots fishers,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland 

Mary Island Fishing Club Vice President Wayne Foley, who travelled from Derby to attend the info session, said: “The Buccaneer Archipelago is very important to me, the fishing club and the Derby community. Being able to go up to the Buccaneer and fish is one of the main reasons why many of us chose to live here in Derby. The Archipelago is where we can go to get away from it all and unwind.

“We also feel a strong connection to the place and agree with the TOs it should be protected, but we think there should be a fair deal for everyone who currently uses the area including us fishos.

“It was a good session with DBCA and the Traditional Owners and I was definitely encouraged by what I heard – the Traditional Owners clearly want to talk and engage with us to work something out, which we welcome.”

Some of the Mary Island “delegation” who made the long road-trip to Broome to provide input into the proposed Buccaneer Archipelago Marine Park public comment process.

Laurie Donnelly, who also attended the meeting added: “I’ve been in Derby for 21 years and have always gone up to the Buccaneer with my family for rest and recreation – I love it – it’s pristine and beautiful coastline and it needs looking after.

“We are all custodians of it, and we want to see it protected, but if there’s going to be a marine park, it needs to be the people’s park for everyone to be able to enjoy it in the future.”

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said it was inspiring to see the passion shown by the traveling group of Derby fishers for the Buccaneer Archipelago and the fishing experiences it provides.

“For these guys to give up a day’s work, pay for fuel and accommodation and make a 440 km round-trip to respectfully listen to what the TOs and the DBCA had to say about the proposed marine park shows how much they care,” Dr Rowland said.

“It’s just great to see that level of involvement and commitment from grassroots fishers. There was some good discussion between the TOs and DBCA and this bodes well for further constructive discussions as part of the consultation process.”

  • DBCA staff at the info sessions announced they will be holding a further forum in Derby itself to give local fishers the opportunity to ask questions and share their views on the proposed marine parks – we will let you know once the details have been confirmed.


Fish like this from the pristine waters of the Buccaneer Archipelago is what makes recfishers value fishing access to this remote place so highly. Credit: Unreel Adventure Safaris