Western Australia has a remarkable and spectacular coastline and marine environments that support an incredible range of biodiversity and are an important part of our heritage.
But these areas of natural beauty are also places that we like to use for recreation and contain resources that we want to exploit. As a result, our marine environment can be a place of competition and contest, and successfully protecting and conserving that environment depends on balance and compromise.
A key strategy to achieving that balance and compromise is a network of marine parks and reserves. Government has established 16 marine parks and reserves covering about 2.5 million hectares or nearly 20% of WA’s coastal waters.
WA’s regulatory agencies have a difficult task of managing and protecting the marine parks and reserves. Climate change and a growing population are increasing pressures on the marine environment. At the same time, the marine park network is expanding which increases the monitoring and regulatory activities the agencies need to undertake.
The agencies are largely keeping up, but cannot do everything they plan to do. While this may not present an immediate risk to the health of the parks, it will if it persists. Flexibility in matching resources to risk, and a focus on outcomes, will be key in keeping up with the growing network and increasing pressures.