The future of two marine parks in Geographe Bay is in question as the Federal Department of Environment and Energy reviews the Geographe Commonwealth Marine Reserve. Between July 21 and September 20, the Director of National Parks invited feedback on the draft management plans detailing for 44 Australian Marine Parks around the country. Director of National Parks Sally Barnes said they have received over 82,000 submissions.
“Following consideration by the director, final plans will be provided to the Minister for the Environment and Energy his consideration before tabling in Parliament.” However, South-West Greens MP Diane Evers said the government were planning to downgrade the marine parks in Geographe Bay as part of the review.
“The two offshore national parks in Geographe Bay, where fishing is currently banned, cover less than four per cent of the total area in the Geographe Commonwealth Marine Reserve,” Ms Evers said. “That is a very small area compared to the total reserve, most of which is open fishing, as well as in some zones, mining and exploration.
“The two national parks are each located more than 5km off the coast and were identified as important breeding, foraging or aggregation areas for humpback and blue whales; western rock lobster; and threatened and migratory seabirds, as well as for being one of the few areas where seagrass grows.
“Fishing is allowed in most Commonwealth waters, but given growing fishing pressure and climate change, it is sensible to completely protect some locations.” GeoCatch Chair, Will Hosken said the bay was an important asset to the local environment.
“GeoCatch has worked in the catchment for the past 20 years to improve the health of Geographe Bay and the waterways leading to it,” he said. “GeoCatch supports the establishment of marine park reserves in Geographe Bay and management measures which will provide long term protection of its ecological health and biodiversity.”