Bremer Marine Park plans released

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Bremer Commonwealth Reserve stakeholders remain at odds after the draft management plans for the marine park were announced last week.

Covering more than 4400sqkm the reserve has become renown as a marine wildlife hotspot located off the coast of Bremer Bay.

The plans include three zones: national park zone, special purpose zone with mining exclusion, and a special purpose zone with trawl permissible.

The final round of public consultation for the draft management plans will close September 20.

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National Parks director Sally Barnes said the draft plans have taken into consideration the recommendations from the independent review of commonwealth marine parks in 2016, as well as thousands of comments.

“These draft plans balance our commitment to protect the marine environment, while supporting a sustainable fishing industry, promoting tourism and providing cultural, recreational and economic benefits for coastal communities,” she said.

The draft plans do not include the Bremer Canyon killer whale summer time hotspot - a spot which has helped garner international interest for the region since it was discovered in 2013.

Filmmaker Dave Riggs said he is concerned that oil and gas extraction may still be permissible in the area, however he hopes the National Park Zone will help police the visitations to the region which affect the hunting acoustics of the region’s orcas.

“The one thing I can see coming out of it with it being a marine national park, is there may be some sort of policing of the visitations people are making out here because it is turning into a circus,” he said.

“These animals in the Bremer area, the killer whales that is, are listening, so all of a sudden you have a number of boats out there, they can’t hear properly so they leave.

“That’s one of the big problems out there... if it becomes a circus out there then we may as well drill a hole in it.”

While Bremer Bay Dive owner Craig Lebens said plans will not protect the inner sanctuary from scallop trawling.

“Scallop trawling is still allowed and it is really damaging to the bottom structure,” he said.

“After the scallop boats have been through fishing stocks dramatically decline and no one can catch any fish.

“They are destroying the habitat there for fish, and the scallop boats operating here, the community gets no financial return.”

WA Fishing Industry Council chief executive John Harrison said scallop trawling was closely regulated by the Department of Fisheries and posed no environmental threat.

“The zoning proposed for part of the Bremer Bay Reserve will allow existing scallop trawling to continue which is very pleasing and testament of the very low impact scallop trawling has over soft bed sediment,” he said.

Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson said the consultation process has been extensive and strike a balance between protecting the environment and accounting for community and economic interests.

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