Australian Marine Parks

Wednesday 15 May 2019 — Fremantle

The inaugural meeting of the North-west Australian Marine Parks Advisory Committee (NWMPAC) was held in Perth on Wednesday 15 May 2019.

This meeting marked the beginning of a two year term for the 13 newly appointed members. Individual members were selected from a large number of applicants who responded to a public expression of interest process open to all Australians last year.

Appointment of the Committee represents an important step in implementing actions in the North-west Marine Parks Network Management Plan that came into effect 1 July 2018.

The role of the Committee is advisory, not regulatory, and will guide Parks Australia and the Director of National Parks on key aspects of marine park management.

Member attendance:

Bianca Priest (Chair), Aaron Irving, Dean Mathews, Gina Lincoln, Jim Stoddart, Jeff Cooper, John Harrison, Keld Knudsen, Kellie Pendoley, Mat Vanderklift, Michelle Howard, Peter Coote, Sean McNeair, Tony Evans (apology).


Invited Observers were from parks and fisheries agencies in the West Australian Government.

Welcoming the new members

At the inaugural North-west Marine Park Advisory Committee meeting, Parks Australia welcomed the new members who bring a wealth of experience from across the region on issues critical to marine park management including tourism, fishing, aquaculture, sea country values, science, conservation, governance, industry and communications.

Whadjuk elder Richard Walley welcomed the members to country.

The morning session focused on introducing new members to Australian Marine Parks, the North-west marine region and Parks Australia’s management vision and objectives. Presentations set the scene for a discussion with Members about the implementation of the North-west Marine Parks Network Management Plan.

Implementation Plan – Foundation

The key focus of the first meeting was the Foundation Phase Implementation Plan, which identifies management actions across the first 4 years of management (2018-2022).

Under each of the seven programs advice from Committee members was sought on:

  • subject or location specific management needs and opportunities
  • relevant work and programs recently completed, underway or planned that can inform park management
  • marine park user/stakeholder information needs and engagement opportunities.

Communication, Education and Awareness Program

Suggestions focused around actions to understand management issues, target audiences and opportunities to improve awareness of marine parks and management arrangements. Discussions also highlighted the roles that partner organisations could play in getting key messages out to stakeholders.

Tourism and Visitor Experience Program

Discussions supported actions to identify tourism activities and opportunities to raise awareness of the marine parks. Suggestions included: attendance at regional tourism workshops and liaising with tourism organisations to reach operators across the north-west region. Promoting the “worlds largest representative network of marine parks” as a draw card was one idea discussed.

Indigenous Engagement Program

Topics focussed around the role of Indigenous people in the promotion of marine parks and management, and traditional ecological knowledge being utilised in conjunction with science projects. The committee discussed the Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Advisory Group (ISWAG) as an advisory group in the Kimberley region.

Marine Science Program

A risk-based approach to prioritising science needs was emphasised by Members. The Australian Marine Parks Science Atlas was raised as a way of improving knowledge and understanding of marine parks and research undertaken in parks.

Assessments and Authorisations Program

Parks Australia’s approach to authorising activities in marine parks was presented, including options to raise awareness among tour operators and researchers of the requirements for undertaking tourism or research in marine parks. Information about Parks Australia’s authorisations – permits, class approvals, and activity licences and leases is available here.

Parks Protection and Management Program

The Committee heard about work underway by Park’s Australia to provide guidance on moorings in marine parks. Also, they discussed opportunities for engagement in management activities such as marine debris monitoring and removal.

Compliance Program

Discussions focused around actions to support voluntary compliance by marine parks users and improvements to online platforms, such as apps. Parks Australia apply a risk based approach to developing the annual North-west Network compliance plan.

Next Meeting

The next Committee meeting is likely to be held in Broome in late 2019.