New Marine Park in the Kimberley Is the Largest in Western Australia

The new marine park in the Kimberley will be the largest in Western Australia and will protect the primary calving area of humpback whales as they migrate to the Antarctic. The 680,000-hectare (1.7 million-acre) Lalang-garram Camden Sound Marine Park will also include the state's largest sanctuary for marine life at Montgomery Reef, providing a haven for the newly discovered snubfin dolphin, marine turtles, and several other important species. An agreement to establish the park was signed early this month.

"The creation of the state's largest marine sanctuary demonstrates the national leadership position WA now has on marine conservation.  At a time when some states are looking to wind back protection of our unique marine life, WA continues to move forward to ensure life beneath the waves is conserved for everyone, now and in the future," said Michelle Grady, Pew's Perth-based oceans director.

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Not only is this the largest marine park in Western Australia, but it is also the first to be managed by the Traditional Owners.  Rangers from the Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation have signed a joint agreement with WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob to manage the park.  

"Managing Indigenous Protected Areas on land by combining Western science and traditional knowledge is proving to be a world-leading model for conservation. It is a logical extension that this approach is now being used to manage our seas," Grady said.

Aboriginal people have led the way in conservation on land, creating 60 Indigenous Protected Areas on their traditional lands, with more expected this year. Similar to national parks, these areas cover 50 million hectares (almost 124 million acres) of the continent. They help protect unique landscapes, plants, and animals, and they also maintain traditional culture and provide much-needed jobs. These protected areas are managed by roughly 700 Indigenous Rangers across Australia.

In a statement, Minister Jacob said, "The creation of this park, along with other parks under the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, will not only protect the ocean environment, it will pave the way for training and employment opportunities for traditional owners. The Government is negotiating an indigenous land use agreement with the Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation that will provide for a range of further opportunities for the traditional owners to be integrally involved in looking after their country."

For more information: AAP: WA's largest marine park revealed