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Comments close on Horizontal Falls marine park plan proposal

Comments close on Horizontal Falls marine park plan proposal
January 21, 2016

A period of comment on draft plans by Western Australia’s Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) to create two marine parks and a national park in and around the Kimberley's Horizontal Falls are set to close.

The Lalang-garram/Horizontal Falls Marine Park, North Lalang-garram Marine Park and the Oomeday National Park would form part of the Great Kimberley Marine Park, stretching from Talbot Bay north of Derby to the Northern Territory border.

The area is on Dambimangari country and is of significant cultural value.

As such, the proposed marine and terrestrial parks would be jointly managed by Dambimangari traditional owners and the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) and would contribute to one of the world’s largest networks of interconnected marine and terrestrial reserves.

With iron ore and copper deposits, along with potential oil reserves in the area, the draft plan indicates no current mineral or petroleum developments in the proposed marine or national parks.

However, it provided detail of mineral exploration tenements which "overlay some areas in and/or around the proposed Lalang-garram/Horizontal Falls Marine Park and Oomeday National Park".

Two iron ore mines, Koolan and Cockatoo Island, lie to the west of the proposed Lalang-garram/Horizontal Falls Marine Park.

All three parks would be gazetted as class 'A' marine or national parks.

The proposal to protect the area from mining has been welcomed by the environment group Pew Charitable Trust.

Trust spokesperson Tim Nicol stated “it's really exciting to see another step towards protecting the Kimberley.

"Particularly the protection of the Horizontal Falls is showing that the Kimberley really is too precious to mine."

The Trust has previously welcomed the cancellation of plans for a proposed copper mine near the Horizontal Falls in 2012, and a decision by Rio Tinto and the Western Government in March 2015 to permanently ban mining on the Mitchell Plateau.

But Nicol said the Trust's campaign was not over yet, adding “we really welcome the inclusion of new sanctuaries in the marine park but we'll be looking very closely at the controls put on mining and commercial fishing in the marine park.

"Beyond (this draft plan) we'll be looking to the north Kimberley and other areas. The Kimberley is still threatened in many places by commercial fishing and by mining."

Comments on the draft joint management plan close on 22nd January. Click here for more information.

Images (from top): Turtle Reef, proposed Lalang-garram/Horizontal Falls Marine Park (courtesy Kimberley Media) and the Kimberley Horizontal Falls (courtesy DPAW).

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