The new North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network is made up of 13 reserves, covers an area of 335 437 km2 and incorporates the existing Ningaloo Reef, Mermaid Reef, Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island Commonwealth marine reserves. These four existing reserves have been renamed to align with the other reserves in the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network.
Transitional management arrangements have been implemented for the new marine reserves to cover the period until statutory management plans come into effect in July 2014. There will be no changes in on water activities for any users during this period.
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), any activity in a marine reserve requires approval from the Director of National Parks in the period between proclamation of the reserves and the implementation of a management plan. This applies to existing commercial activities, including those that involve the taking of native species (fishing). This approval from the Director of National Parks is issued under section 359B of the EPBC Act. Approval can be given to both individuals and to classes of persons, and can be issued with or without conditions on the approved activity.
The Director of National Parks has issued a general approval for all new areas added to the Commonwealth marine reserve estate in the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Separate approvals have been issued for areas within existing and renamed Commonwealth marine reserves, including Ningaloo Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters), Mermaid Reef National Nature Reserve, Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve and Cartier Island Marine Reserve.
The general approval for the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network provides for the following activities to continue while a management plan is prepared:
- Commercial fishing
- Non-commercial fishing
- Commercial tourism
- Mining operations
- Commercial vessel transit (being continuous passage of a vessel through an area by the shortest direct route without any other activity being carried on)
- Commercial media activities
- Commercial image capture
- Erecting structures, carrying out works and carrying on an excavation.
Activities must be carried out in accordance to the conditions under the general approval.
For further information please contact the department.
Separate approvals apply to activities in the areas of renamed reserves.
Information on the transitional management arrangements in place for areas within the four renamed Commonwealth marine reserves within the North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network is available on the individual reserve web pages:
- Ningaloo Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters) (renamed)
- Mermaid Reef National Nature Reserve (renamed)
- Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve (renamed)
- Cartier Island Marine Reserve (renamed)
The North-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network Management Plan 2014-24 has been prepared in accordance with Section 368 of the EPBC Act and provides for consistency in the management of the reserves within the Network and across all the reserve networks. The management plan for the North-west Network will come into effect on 1 July 2014.
The Plan takes into account public comments received in relation to the Proclamation of the reserves as well as the responses received on the initial invitation to comment in November 2012. The draft Management Plan was available for public comment between 14 January and 14 February 2013.
The Plan provides the overarching framework for management of the North-west Network for a period of 10 years from the Plan's commencement. It is consistent with the intent and direction for establishing the reserves. The Plan addresses the requirements of the EPBC Act and associated regulations and provides flexibility to allow management arrangements to be adapted as needed through the life of the Plan.
Commonwealth Marine Reserves Branch
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Edgar Waite Building
203 Channel Highway
Kingston TAS 7050
Phone: 1800 069 352