The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
6 April 2004
The Australian Government is increasing the protection of important waters off the Western Australian coast by extending the Ningaloo Marine Park to include two expired petroleum leases.
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced a Proclamation to increase the boundaries of the Ningaloo Marine Park by 259 square kilometres, or approximately 12 per cent of the total area.
Dr Kemp made the announcement while visiting the Shark Bay World Heritage area with Federal Kalgoorlie Member, Barry Haase, to inspect federally-funded projects and to announce further funding of $112,300 for World Heritage projects in Western Australia and $164,000 for Natural Heritage Trust projects in the Shark Bay region.
“World Heritage projects the Australian Government has funded at Shark Bay this year include an extension of the Project Eden program, which has seen captive breeding return endangered species to areas from where they had disappeared.
“We have also funded enhanced visitor facilities in the Francois Peron National Park, while Australia's newest World Heritage area, Purnululu National Park in the State's north east, secured the remaining funds to support its new international status.
“This brings the total NHT funding for World Heritage projects at Shark Bay to almost $4 million, including over half a million dollars for Project Eden and $1 million for a new World Heritage interpretation centre at Denham.
“ The Natural Heritage Trust will also fund, over the next three years, a pilot conservation project to rescue threatened flora and ecological communities of the Geraldton to Shark Bay Sandplain and the Mount Lesueur Eneabba Biodiversity Hotspots.”
In relation to the extensions to Ningaloo Marine Park, Dr Kemp said the two additional areas to become part of the Park had previously been the subject of petroleum exploration permits.
Ningaloo Marine Park (Commonwealth waters) stretches for approximately 260 km from just below the Tropic of Capricorn at Amherst Point, to just north of North West Cape (see attached map).
“Incorporating these two areas will ensure the whole of the deep water environment fringing the reef is protected and will allow for the regulation of any activities in the area that could threaten the conservation values of the Park,” Dr Kemp said.
Dr Kemp said the Marine Park, including Ningaloo Reef in State waters, provides habitat for a diverse range of marine species.
“For example, over 200 species of coral, 600 species of mollusc and 500 species of fish have been recorded. The Marine Park is also noted for its large marine fauna including seasonal aggregations of the world's largest fish, the whale shark; the large pelagic fish including tuna and billfish; whales and dolphins; marine turtles; and dugongs,” he said.
“It is also visited regularly by migratory birds listed on international agreements to which Australia is a signatory and has a willing obligation to protect.”
Petroleum exploration permit areas WA 24-P Parts 2 and 3 were not included in the Park when it was proclaimed in May 1987 due to the provisions of the then National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 (NPWC Act) which precluded an area with a pre-existing interest, such as a petroleum exploration permit, from being declared as a Commonwealth reserve.
The NPWC Act was replaced on 16 July 2000 by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 , and the Proclamation of the Park continues under the new Act.
“When the petroleum permit areas WA 24-P Parts 2 and 3 were surrendered, I was advised they would not be re-released and were available for inclusion in the Park,” Dr Kemp said.
“The Management Plan for Ningaloo Marine Park provides for the new areas to be managed in accordance with the rest of the Park, including the prohibition on petroleum and mineral exploration and production.”
Map showing the existing boundaries of Ningaloo Marine Park