New national park to protect WA islands

Beacon Island. Photo: Wikipedia
Beacon Island. Photo: Wikipedia

A PLANNED new national park off Western Australia’s mid-west coast that was floated by the previous State Government is finally going ahead.

The proposal to create the Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park was announced by former premier Colin Barnett ahead of the 2017 state election.

But it was shelved as the new Labor government focused on its own pre-poll promises, saying the Liberals had not funded the plan.

The McGowan government has now allocated $10 million for tourism and management infrastructure, including new jetties, while a further operational budget will fund new rangers.

The 122 islands west of Geraldton – the site of the notorious Batavia mutiny – are currently an A-Class Reserve managed by the Department of Fisheries.

The new national park will cover lands outside of areas leased to rock lobster and aquaculture fisheries, and will be managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

The islands are among Australia’s most important sites for breeding seabirds, free from introduced predators.

They are also home to 26 terrestrial species of reptiles, many of which are endemic to the Abrolhos, and more than 140 species of protected native flora.

The creation of the national park coincides with the 400-year anniversary of the European sighting of the islands by Dutch explorer Frederik de Houtman.

The McGowan government will also on Thursday formally transfer an additional section of land to the Murujuga National Park in the Pilbara region, which has the world’s biggest concentration of rock art.

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