The Kimberley coast: a last sanctuary, nine iconic places

29 Aug 2012

This report finds that establishing a Great Kimberley Marine Park with Indigenous joint management would create a global icon in WA's far north rivaling the Great Barrier Reef.

The first global analysis of human impacts on marine ecosystems (Halpern et al, 2008) recognised northern Australia, including the Kimberley, as one of the world’s last, relatively undamaged coastal areas. The only other large marine areas identified in a similar condition were the remote reaches of the Polar regions. The Kimberley is a global treasure of comparable importance to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Marine Parks and features similar internationally significant ecological, scientific and cultural values.

The Kimberley has outstanding Indigenous cultural values - with Traditional Owners’ ancient connections to their country continuing strongly through to the present day. These unique connections as well as intricate ecological and geographic knowledge of their lands, seas and biota has grown with them over thousands of years. It provides Traditional Owners with a highly valuable ‘cultural map’ of their country.

The Kimberley marine environment is vast, extending north from Eighty Mile Beach and east to the Northern Territory border covering an area of 630,000 square kilometres. Unsurprisingly such an enormous seascape contains waters controlled by both the Western Australian (WA) and Commonwealth Governments. This report documents the outstanding conservation values of the state waters of the Kimberley which extend from the shore out to three nautical miles and include several offshore islands, reefs and atolls under State jurisdiction.

Image: The fringing reefs of Dugong Bay, in the Buccaneer Archipelago / Richard Costin

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