Pilbara and Eighty Mile Beach (PEMB) marine planning process

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Leith Larham
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Pilbara and Eighty Mile Beach (PEMB) marine planning process

Post by Leith Larham » Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:23 am

I just wanted to share with you, a recent email that was forwarded to me by the Marine Policy and Planning Branch Department of Environment and Conservation.

Welcome to the second for the Pilbara and Eighty Mile Beach (PEMB) marine planning process.

Interagency Working Group

The Interagency Working Group (IWG) for the PEMB marine planning project have met twice more since its inaugural meeting in October 2007. The IWG comprises representatives of key Government agencies and will help plan new marine parks and reserves. At its last two meetings the IWG have been working together to clarify government programs and information relevant for reserve planning in the region. In addition the IWG is working with the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to develop goals and criteria to guide the selection of marine parks and reserves.

Resource assessment

Last year DEC commenced an information and data gathering phase in order to collate information on the ecological and socio-economic values of the study area for use in the planning process. This phase is now nearing its conclusion. A wide-range of spatial data has been collected for the study areas covering socio-economic and biophysical values.

Some of the data sets include

· tenure information such as locations of ports, boat ramps and existing terrestrial reserves;

· socio-economic information such as development sites, important commercial and recreational fishing areas and sites important for tourism; and

· biological values such as priority mangrove areas, benthic habitat, turtle nesting and foraging areas and bird breeding locations.

DEC staff have also reviewed and summarised key literature about the study areas. Field visits, such as those undertaken as part of the Aboriginal engagement program and during the community information sessions, are continually adding to DEC staff's knowledge about the areas. As further information comes to hand during the process it will also be added to the resource assessment summary.

Community engagement

The first DEC email update outlined a series of community information sessions that were being held in Perth, Broome, Eighty Mile Beach, Port Hedland, Karratha and Onslow from 10-18 April. These sessions were attended by approximately 60 people and DEC staff visited a further 18 local businesses prior to the sessions including visitor centres and fishing and tackle stores.

During the information sessions and visits to businesses, DEC staff collected information from members of the community about how they use areas, the activities they undertake and where these occur. As well as this, DEC sought feedback on the proposal to establish marine parks and reserves in the study areas and whether there were any specific local issues that DEC should know about. The majority of attendees identified themselves as being recreational fishers, commercial fishers and/or having conservation interests. Other attendees were from industry, tourism and pastoral sectors.

The majority of people were generally positive about the Government proposal to expand reserves in the region. When asked about specific issues or opinions, people generally wanted more protection but also wanted to maintain access to areas for usage. These sessions were very helpful to DEC staff for identifying specific local issues and resulted in many new people expressing an interest in receiving regular updates and being involved in the project. Approximately 450 people are on the contacts database for this project.

Indigenous engagement

DEC has developed an Aboriginal engagement program to provide opportunities for effective input to the marine parks and reserves planning process. The engagement program provides opportunities for partnerships to be established or strengthened between DEC and native title holders or claimants for areas that are proposed as a marine park or reserve. It also provides a forum for the progressive development of Indigenous Land Use Agreements where appropriate.

To date, introductory meetings have been held with several Native Title Working Groups and a country visit has been undertaken with the Nyangumarta people to gather biological and social information about their particular claim area. The discussions were positive and provided DEC with a general understanding of areas that are important for hunting and food gathering as well as for cultural/ spiritual reasons. These aspects can then be incorporated into the management arrangements proposed for any marine park or reserve in the area through the management plan. Further meetings and country visits with other Aboriginal working groups are planned for July.

Peak body and interest group engagement

To enable effective information sharing and two way communication on relevant aspects of the PEMB project, peak bodies with an interest in fishing have, in association with DEC, formed a ‘fishing consultation group.’ This group will provide specific input on fishing activities and values in the study areas. Data provided by the group will be used in the reserve design process to work towards achieving the conservation goals of the project while maximising benefits to the community, including the fishing industry. This group will meet at several key stages in the process and includes representatives of the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council, Aquaculture Council of WA, Pearl Producers Association and Recfishwest. The Department of Fisheries also participates in the group’s discussions. This group had its first meeting in April and the second meeting is scheduled for late July. Conservation non-government organisations have also been briefed on the project by DEC and will be kept informed. Other interest groups are encouraged to contact DEC for further information about the project.

What’s next?

Over the next few months the IWG will be working with DEC to develop proposed reserve boundaries and identify key areas of ecological and socio-economic importance. This will form the basis for further discussions and feedback with the community, Aboriginal native title working groups, peak bodies and stakeholders in the latter part of 2008. It is anticipated that an indicative management plan will be prepared by mid 2009 when it will be released for a three month public submission period.

Further information

If you would like more information, please either visit the website (www.naturebase.net/pilbara80mile) or contact DEC’s Marine Policy and Planning Branch on 9336 0100 or email pemb@dec.wa.gov.au, Pilbara Regional Office in Karratha on 9182 2000 or West Kimberley District Office in Broome on 9195 5500.

If you do not wish to receive future email updates or would like to nominate someone else to receive them, please let us know by replying to this email.


Marine Policy and Planning Branch
Department of Environment and Conservation

Suite 3 / Level 3 Queensgate Building
10 William St, Fremantle WA 6160

Ph: 08 9336 0100 Fax: 08 9430 5408
Email: pemb@dec.wa.gov.au

Quality not Quantity!

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