PUBLIC consultation on Australian marine parks, including the Two Rocks Marine Park, will close next week.
The Federal Government has invited submissions on draft plans to manage 44 marine parks over the next decade, with the comment period closing on September 20.
“Marine parks protect important marine habitats and species,” Parks Australia national parks director Sally Barnes said.
“They provide places for people to watch wildlife, dive and snorkel, go boating, and fish.
“They create jobs in industries like fishing and tourism, and are a source of food and energy.
“I’d encourage everyone to take a look at these five plans my team at Parks Australia have put together.
“This is your chance to influence how we’ll manage a large area of our marine environment over the next 10 years.”
The 882sq km Two Rocks Marine Park, established in 2012, includes an 867sq km multiple use zone and a 15sq km national park zone.
“The objective of the multiple use zone is to provide for ecologically sustainable use and the conservation of ecosystems, habitats and native species,” the draft plan said.
“The objective of the national park zone is to provide for the protection and conservation of ecosystems, habitats and native species in as natural a state as possible.”
The Two Rocks reserve is located about 25km north-west of Perth, to the north-west of the WA Marmion Marine Park.
“It includes habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the South-West Shelf Transition,” the plan said.
According to the plan, the reserve’s key ecological features include the Commonwealth marine environment within and adjacent to the west-coast inshore lagoons, which is valued for high marine life productivity and high biodiversity levels of biodiversity.
It also features western rock lobster species, which plays a regionally important ecological role, and ancient coastline between 90m and 120m depth, which is valued for relatively high marine life productivity and high biodiversity levels.
“The marine park is shallow and captures inshore lagoons that are key areas for the recruitment of rock lobster and reef fish species,” the plan said.
“The Leeuwin Current has a significant influence on the biodiversity of this near shore area as it pushes subtropical water southward along the area’s western edge.
“The area contains a diversity of tropical and temperate marine life, including a large number of endemic fauna species.
“The inshore lagoons are thought to be important areas for benthic productivity and recruitment for a large range of marine species.
“The marine park supports a range of species including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.
“Biologically important areas within the marine park include foraging habitat for seabirds and Australian sea lions, a migratory pathway for humpback and pygmy blue whales, and a calving buffer area for southern right whales.
“Sea country is valued for indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.
“The Swan River traditional owners have responsibilities for sea country in the marine park.
“No international, Commonwealth or national heritage listings apply to the marine park at commencement of this plan.
“Commercial tourism, commercial fishing, recreation and scientific research are important activities in the marine park.”
The plan said pressures in Australia were “low by global standards”.
“However, given that more than 85 per cent of Australians live within 50km of the sea, and with Australia’s population of approximately 24.4 million projected to grow to 39.7 million by 2055, pressures on the marine environment are likely to increase,” it said.
Ms Barnes said preparation of the draft plans considered more than 54,000 earlier submissions and recommendations from the independent review of Commonwealth marine reserves released in 2016.
In 2012, the government expanded the total coverage of Australia’s National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas to 3.3 million sq km.
View the draft plans at www.parksaustralia.gov.au/marine.