Western Australia's Fisheries Minister Jon Ford has resolved a long-running community issue in Kalbarri by creating a Fish Habitat Protection Area at the well-known Blue Holes near the town.
Sun sets over Kalbarri Blue Holes
The name Blue Holes refers to the inter-tidal pools within the limestone reef south-west of the town, which shelter marine life and provide a unique educational experience for the observation of aquatic life near to the shore. It is an easily accessible reef area almost half a kilometre long and between 130 and 140m wide.
'In the process of creating this Fish Habitat Protection Area, I have taken into account a lot of community feedback in considering the boundaries so that recreational fishing activities can continue at popular beach locations adjacent to the FHPA,' Mr Ford said.
'The conservation area supports an interesting array of marine life and habitat types and marine surveys have shown the potential for fish populations to increase in size and diversity if we remove fishing activity at the Blue Holes.'
All forms of fishing within the FHPA, including the collection of marine organisms and the use of motorised vessels, are now prohibited, effective from December 21 2007.
The Minister said the local community had been involved in the process that led to the establishment of the protection area, and the success of its long-term management would depend on the continued stewardship of residents.
'A Kalbarri Blue Holes working group will be formed to oversee the implementation of management strategies, from the installation of educational signage to wider community education and monitoring of the area, to maintain and promote its environmental values,'
Mr Ford said.
Jamie Waite, from Friends of the Blue Holes, today welcomed the formal establishment of the Fish Habitat Protection Area at the Blue Holes.
Beach fishing at Kalbarri's Blue Hole
Mr Waite said the conservation of the aquatic ecosystem offered a new dimension to enjoying the marine environment around Kalbarri.
'The enjoyment from simply observing fish and marine life in their natural environment can be breathtaking and we look forward to sharing that with many of the locals and tourists who come to Kalbarri each year,' he said.
'Kalbarri’s Blue Holes provide a wonderful and accessible window into a rich marine environment and it will be our goal to keep it healthy and protected for everyone to appreciate.'