The Great Kimberley Marine Park is recognised as one of the world’s greatest natural and cultural regions, a true wilderness. Its spectacular coastline, extensive wetlands, and mangroves and rich marine life make it globally significant.
Why is the Great Kimberley Marine Park so important?
The Great Kimberley Marine Park was declared in December 2016. This significant new marine park contains four adjacent, consistent marine parks that cover a total of three million hectares of the Kimberley coastal waters – roughly half the size of Tasmania. On average a fifth of the area’s waters are designated marine sanctuaries, offering the highest protection for marine life.
The Kimberley is also a refuge for threatened and vulnerable species; whales, turtles, dolphins, sawfish. The Kimberley is home to two of Australia’s endemic dolphin species, the Australian snubfin dolphin and the Australian humpback dolphin.
We are closer than ever to seeing the Kimberley Coast protected, with the addition of Roebuck Bay, Horizontal Falls and the North Kimberley to existing parks at Camden Sound and Eighty Mile Beach, five marine parks have been added toward the vision of protecting the Kimberley Coast in a Great Kimberley Marine Park.
Key areas of the Kimberley Marine Park estate
The Kimberley coast is one of the most intact tropical marine environments left on earth. It is home to Australia’s largest inshore reef, extensive seagrass meadows and corals, and the world’s largest population of humpback whales.
Unsurprisingly, this coastline of outstanding natural beauty is also a refuge for threatened and vulnerable species; the breeding ground for 30,000 humpback whales, six of the worlds seven marine turtle species, dugongs, snubin dolphins and endangered sawfish.
Lalang-Garrum Horizontal Falls Marine Park
“One of the greatest natural wonders of the world” – Sir David Attenborough.
The Horizontal Falls are created by a very fast-moving tidal flow between narrow gorges in Talbot Bay, part of the Buccaneer Archipelago, resulting in an unusual horizontal waterfall effect. These tides can be up to 10 metres! This area combines stunning scenery and outstanding biodiversity, deserving of the highest possible protection.
The marine park includes some large new sanctuary zones for marine life at places like Turtle Reef and Walcott Inlet.
North Kimberley Marine Park
The North Kimberley Marine Park extends over nearly 19,000km2 making it by far the biggest marine park in WA, stretching from the Bonaparte Archipelago all the way to the Northern Territory border.
It includes some of the most pristine and remote waters of the Kimberley. The North Kimberley is fringed by coral reefs, which rival the Great Barrier Reef for diversity of species and are among the most unspoiled coral reefs left on Earth. They also support species such as loggerhead turtles and dugong.
The North Kimberley Marine Park will be jointly managed with the local Traditional Owners.
Yawuru Nagulugun – Roebuck Bay Marine Park
Every year, around 300,000 migratory shorebirds visit Roebuck Bay as they stop to feed and roost along the Kimberley coast. For this reason, Roebuck Bay is listed as internationally significant under the international Ramsar Convention.
Roebuck Bay is also home to the second largest snubfin population in Australia. A marine sanctuary as proposed would benefit Roebuck Bay in protecting this population of dolphins, and benefit the local recreational fishing with species such as mudcrabs and threadfin salmon.
In November 2016, the Barnett Government created the Yawuru Nagulagun Roebuck Bay Marine Park without a sanctuary zone, despite a strong campaign from supporters and the advice of leading scientists. One year later, the new Labor Government committed to undertake a science-based review of the Roebuck Bay Marine Park after their immediate priority to protect the Buccaneer Archipelago. The review for a sanctuary will not start immediately, so until it does we will keep working for the proper protection in Roebuck Bay.