Australian Marine Parks

Extracted from the Australian Marine Parks North-West Management Plan 2018.

Values are broadly defined as:

  • Natural values—habitats, species and ecological communities within marine parks, and the processes that support their connectivity, productivity and function.
  • Cultural values—living and cultural heritage recognising Indigenous beliefs, practices and obligations for country, places of cultural significance and cultural heritage sites.
  • Heritage values—non-Indigenous heritage that has aesthetic, historic, scientific or social significance.
  • Socio-economic values—the benefit of marine parks for people, businesses and the economy.

The values of individual marine parks are set out in Schedule 2.

In managing marine parks, the Director will need to make decisions about what can occur in the marine parks and what actions to take to manage them.

This will involve the Director making decisions that carefully balance the need to protect natural, cultural, heritage and socio-economic values of marine parks, with enabling use and managing pressures.

In making these decisions, the Director will carefully consider the impacts and risks to natural, cultural, heritage or socio-economic values for the relevant marine park/s.

The Director will also consider any positive impacts associated with allowing an activity, such as socio-economic or cultural benefits, and ensure activities are undertaken in a manner that minimises negative impacts.

For some marine parks, such as the Ashmore Reef Marine Park, there is a relatively strong understanding of park values.

Where there is less information, environmental features are used as indicators for the types of species and habitats likely to occur.

These include bioregions, water depth, seafloor features, and key ecological features (Schedule 3).

As understanding of marine park values improves over the life of this plan, the Director will make new information about values available on the Parks Australia website.

Other important sources of information on values (also on the Department’s website) include:

  • Species profile and threats database for protected species
  • Directory of important wetlands in Australia
  • Australian heritage database for natural, historic and Indigenous heritage places
  • Australian national shipwreck database for known shipwrecks
  • National Conservation Values Atlas
  • Marine bioregional plan for the North-west Marine Region (2012)
  • North-west marine bioregional plan: bioregional profile (2008).

Summary of values in the North-west Network

Statement of significance

The North-west Network was designed to protect representative examples of the region’s ecosystems and biodiversity in accordance with the Goals and principles for the establishment of the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas in Commonwealth waters (ANZECC, 1998).

Natural values

Bioregions—the North-west Marine Region is divided into areas of ocean grouped by broadly similar characteristics based on the distribution of marine species and seafloor features (bioregions).

The Network represents examples of the region’s marine environments including ecosystems, species and habitats.

There are eight bioregions represented in the North-west Network (Schedule 2).

Key ecological features—elements of the marine environment considered to be of importance for biodiversity or ecosystem function and integrity, represented in the Network are:

  • Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island and surrounding Commonwealth waters
  • Continental slope demersal fish communities
  • Canyons linking the Argo Abyssal Plain with the Scott Plateau
  • The ancient coastline at the 125-m depth contour
  • Mermaid Reef and the Commonwealth waters surrounding the Rowley Shoals
  • Exmouth Plateau
  • Canyons linking the Cuvier Abyssal Plain with the Cape Range Peninsula
  • Commonwealth waters adjacent to Ningaloo Reef.

Species and habitats—all species and habitats are important components of the ecosystems represented in the North-west Network.

Many species are protected under the EPBC Act and international agreements such as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention), the Japan–Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA), the China–Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (CAMBA), and the Republic of Korea–Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (ROKAMBA).

Further information on these agreements is in Schedule 1.

The North-west Network supports important habitats, including biologically important areas, for a range of protected species.

Biologically important areas are where aggregations of individuals of a protected species breed, forage and rest during migration.

More information on protected species and biologically important areas can be found in the Marine bioregional plan for the North-west Marine Region (2012) and the conservation values atlas on the Department’s website.

Ashmore Reef Ramsar site

The Ashmore Reef Ramsar site is located within the boundary of the Ashmore Reef Marine Park.

The site was listed under the Ramsar Convention in 2002 and is a wetland of international importance under the EPBC Act.

The site includes the largest of the atolls in the region, and West Island, Middle Island and East Island represent the only vegetated islands in the region.

The site supports internationally significant populations of seabirds and shorebirds, is important for turtles (green, hawksbill and loggerhead) and dugong, and has the highest diversity of hermatypic (reef-building) corals on the West Australian coast.

Cultural values

Aboriginal people of north-western Australia have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years, in some cases since before rising sea levels created these marine environments.

Sea country refers to the areas of the sea that Aboriginal people are particularly affiliated with through their traditional lore and customs.

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.

Aboriginal people continue to assert inherited rights and responsibilities over sea country within the Northwest Network.

It is recognised that spiritual corridors extend from terrestrial areas into nearshore and offshore waters, a number of marine animals are totems for Indigenous people, and that songlines pass through marine parks.

Three native title determinations have been made over sea country within the Kimberley Marine Park.

These determinations recognise in law that native title exists over sea country and preserve continuing rights to access sea country to hunt, fish, gather and use the resources of the waters for personal, domestic, communal, cultural and spiritual needs. 

Traditional Indonesian fishers have also visited and used the northern coast of Australia and its islands and reefs since at least the early eighteenth century.

Evidence of this, for example grave sites, is found within the Ashmore Reef Marine Park.

Heritage values

Protected places (world, national and Commonwealth heritage, historic shipwrecks)

The EPBC Act protects matters of national environmental significance that are classified as protected places, including world heritage properties and national heritage places.

Places on the Commonwealth Heritage List or shipwrecks listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 are also protected places.

Historic shipwrecks are a unique historic value and the region is an area of considerable importance in Australia’s maritime history.

Many of these vessels were lost in the cyclones that proved devastating to fleets working the pearling grounds.

The North-west Network includes Australia’s earliest historic shipwreck, the British East Indiaman Trial, wrecked in 1622, and many other famous shipwrecks.

More information on located wrecks and shipwrecks historically reported as lost can be found in the Australian national shipwrecks database.

The North-west Network includes, or is adjacent to, the following internationally listed places:

The Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Property

An area of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Property is included in the Ningaloo Marine Park.

The property was inscribed on the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee in 2011 on the basis of its outstanding universal value.

It includes high marine species diversity and abundance; in particular, Ningaloo Reef supports both tropical and temperate marine reptiles and mammals.

*Shark Bay, Western Australia World Heritage Property *

The Western Australia World Heritage Property Shark Bay is adjacent to the Shark Bay Marine Park.

The property was inscribed on the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee in 1991 on the basis of its outstanding universal value.

It includes large and diverse seagrass beds, stromatolites and populations of dugong and threatened species.

Social and economic values

The North-west Network supports a range of important social and economic uses that underpin the prosperity and wellbeing of regional communities.

Shipping, port-related activities, commercial fishing, pearling and aquaculture are industries of national economic significance.

The Network also provides some opportunity for offshore mining operations.

Marine tourism such as charter fishing, snorkelling, diving and wildlife watching, are also important commercial activities that offer unique visitor experiences on reefs, islands and cays, and in deep-water environments, particularly around Mermaid Reef and Ningaloo Marine Parks.

The Network also supports a range of recreational activities including fishing.

Shark Bay Marine Park

The Shark Bay Marine Park is located approximately 60 km offshore of Carnarvon, adjacent to the Shark Bay world heritage property and national heritage place.

The Marine Park covers an area of 7443 km², extending from the Western Australian state water boundary, and a water depth range between 15 m and 220 m.

The Marine Park was proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Shark Bay Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category VI and includes one zone assigned under this plan:

  • Multiple Use Zone (VI).

Coordinates for the Shark Bay Marine Park and zone are provided in Schedule 4.

Statement of significance

The Shark Bay Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Central Western Shelf Province and Central Western Transition.

The Marine Park

provides connectivity between deeper Commonwealth waters and the inshore waters of the Shark Bay world heritage property.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of:

  • Central Western Shelf – a predominantly flat, sandy and low-nutrient area, in water depths 50–100 m. The bioregion is a transitional zone between tropical and temperate species
  • Central Western Transition—characterised by large areas of continental slope, a range of topographic features such as terraces, rises and canyons, seasonal and sporadic upwelling, and benthic slope communities comprising tropical and temperate species.

Ecosystems represented in the Marine Park are influenced by the Leeuwin, Ningaloo and Capes currents.

The Marine Park supports a range of species including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include breeding habitat for seabirds, internesting habitat for marine turtles, and a migratory pathway for humpback whales.

The Marine Park and adjacent coastal areas are also important for shallow-water snapper.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.

Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

The Gnulli and Malgana people have responsibilities for sea country in the Marine Park.

The Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation is the Native Title Representative Body for the Yamatji region.

Heritage values

No international, Commonwealth or national heritage listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan, but the Marine Park is adjacent to the Shark Bay, Western Australia World Heritage Property and Shark Bay, Western Australia National Heritage Place.

Historic shipwrecks

The Marine Park contains approximately 20 known shipwrecks listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

Social and economic values

Tourism, commercial fishing, mining and recreation, including fishing, are important activities in the Marine Park.

These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Carnarvon Canyon Marine Park

The Carnarvon Canyon Marine Park is located approximately 300 km north-west of Carnarvon.

It covers an area of 6177 km² and a water depth range of 1500–6000 m.

The Marine Park was proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Carnarvon Canyon Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category IV and includes one zone assigned under this plan: Habitat Protection Zone (IV).

Coordinates for the Carnarvon Canyon Marine Park and zone are provided in Schedule 4.

Statement of significance

The Carnarvon Canyon Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Central Western Transition.

This includes deep-water ecosystems associated with the Carnarvon Canyon.

The Marine Park lies within a transition zone between tropical and temperate species and is an area of high biotic productivity.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of the Central Western Transition—a bioregion characterised by large areas of continental slope, a range of topographic features such as terraces, rises and canyons, seasonal and sporadic upwelling, and benthic slope communities comprising tropical and temperate species.

It includes the Carnarvon Canyon, a single-channel canyon covering the entire depth range of the Marine Park.

Ecosystems of the Marine Park are influenced by tropical and temperate currents, deep-water environments and proximity to the continental slope and shelf.

The soft-bottom environment at the base of the Carnarvon Canyon is likely to support species that are typical of the deep seafloor (e.g. holothurians, polychaetes and sea-pens).

The Marine Park supports a range of species, including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

There is limited information about species’ use of this Marine Park.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.

Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

Heritage values

No international, Commonwealth or national heritage listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan.

Social and economic values

Commercial fishing is an important activity in the Marine Park.

These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Ningaloo Marine Park

The Ningaloo Marine Park stretches approximately 300 km along the west coast of the Cape Range Peninsula, and is adjacent to the Western Australian Ningaloo Marine Park and Gascoyne Marine Park.

The Marine Park covers an area of 2435 km² and a water depth range of 30 m to more than 500 m.

The Marine Park was originally proclaimed under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 on 20 May 1987 as the Ningaloo Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters), and proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Ningaloo Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category IV and includes two zones assigned under this plan:

  • National Park Zone (II)
  • Recreational Use Zone (IV).

Coordinates for the Ningaloo Marine Park and zone are provided in Schedule 4.

Statement of significance

The Ningaloo Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Central Western Shelf Transition, Central Western Transition, Northwest Province, and Northwest Shelf Province.

It includes three key ecological features:

  • canyons linking the Cuvier Abyssal Plain and the Cape Range Peninsula (valued for unique seafloor features with ecological properties of regional significance)
  • Commonwealth waters adjacent to Ningaloo Reef (valued for high productivity and aggregations of marine life)
  • continental slope demersal fish communities (valued for high levels of endemism and diversity).

The Marine Park provides connectivity between deeper offshore waters of the shelf break and coastal waters of the adjacent Western Australian Ningaloo Marine Park.

It includes some of the most diverse continental slope habitats in Australia, in particular the continental slope area between North West Cape and the Montebello Trough.

Canyons in the Marine Park are important for their role in sustaining the nutrient conditions that support the high diversity of Ningaloo Reef.

The Marine Park is located in a transition zone between tropical and temperate waters and sustains tropical and temperate plants and animals, with many species at the limits of their distributions.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of:

  • Central Western Shelf Transition—continental shelf of water depths up to 100 m, and a significant transition zone between tropical and temperate species
  • Central Western Transition—characterised by large areas of continental slope, a range of topographic features such as terraces, rises and canyons, seasonal and sporadic upwelling, and benthic slope communities comprising tropical and temperate species
  • Northwest Province—an area of continental slope comprising diverse and endemic fish communities
  • Northwest Shelf Province—a dynamic environment, influenced by strong tides, cyclonic storms, long-period swells and internal tides. The bioregion includes diverse benthic and pelagic fish communities, and ancient coastline thought to be an important seafloor feature and migratory pathway for humpback whales.

Key ecological features of the Marine Park are:

  • Canyons linking the Cuvier Abyssal Plain and the Cape Range Peninsula—an area resulting in upwelling of nutrient rich water and aggregations of marine life
  • Commonwealth waters adjacent to Ningaloo Reef—an area where the Leeuwin and Ningaloo currents interact, resulting in enhanced productivity and aggregations of marine life
  • Continental slope demersal fish communities—an area of high diversity among demersal fish assemblages on the continental slope.

Ecosystems represented in the Marine Park are influenced by interaction of the Leeuwin Current, Leeuwin Undercurrent and the Ningaloo Current.

The Marine Park supports a range of species including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include:

  • breeding and or foraging habitat for seabirds
  • internesting habitat for marine turtles
  • a migratory pathway for humpback whales
  • foraging habitat and migratory pathway for pygmy blue whales
  • breeding, calving, foraging and nursing habitat for dugong
  • foraging habitat for whale sharks.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.

Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

The Gnulli people have responsibilities for sea country in the Marine Park.

The Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation is the Native Title Representative Body for the Yamatji region.

Heritage values

World heritage

The Marine Park is within the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Property, recognised for its outstanding universal heritage values, meeting world heritage listing criteria vii and x.

In addition to the Marine Park, the world heritage area includes the Western Australian Ningaloo Marine Park, the Murion Islands, the Western Australian Cape Range National Park and other terrestrial areas.

The area is valued for high terrestrial species endemism, marine species diversity and abundance, and the interconnectedness of large-scale marine, coastal and terrestrial environments.

The area connects the limestone karst system and fossil reefs of the ancient Cape Range to the nearshore reef system of Ningaloo Reef, to the continental slope and shelf in Commonwealth waters.

National heritage

The Ningaloo Coast overlaps the Marine Park and was established on the National Heritage List in 2010, meeting the national heritage listing criteria A, B, C, D, and F.

Commonwealth heritage

The Ningaloo Marine Area (Commonwealth waters) was established on the Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004, meeting Commonwealth heritage listing criteria A, B and C. The Ningaloo Marine Area overlaps the Marine Park.

Historic shipwrecks

The Marine Park contains more than 15 known shipwrecks listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

Social and economic values

Tourism and recreation, including fishing, are important activities in the Marine Park.

These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Gascoyne Marine Park

The Gascoyne Marine Park is located approximately 20 km off the west coast of the Cape Range Peninsula, adjacent to the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park and the Western Australian Ningaloo Marine Park, and extends to the limit of Australia’s exclusive economic zone. The Marine Park covers an area of 81,766 km² and water depths between 15 m and 6000 m.

The Marine Park was proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Gascoyne Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category IV and includes three zones assigned under this plan:

  • National Park Zone (II)
  • Habitat Protection Zone (IV)
  • Multiple Use Zone (VI).

Coordinates for the Gascoyne Marine Park and zones are provided in and Schedule 4.

Statement of significance

The Gascoyne Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Central Western Shelf Transition, Central Western Transition, and Northwest Province.

It includes four key ecological features:

  • Canyons linking the Cuvier Abyssal Plain and the Cape Range Peninsula (valued for unique seafloor features with ecological properties of regional significance)
  • Commonwealth waters adjacent to Ningaloo Reef (valued for high productivity and aggregations of marine life)
  • continental slope demersal fish communities (valued for high levels of endemism and diversity)
  • Exmouth Plateau (valued as a unique seafloor feature with ecological properties of regional significance).

The Marine Park includes some of the most diverse continental slope habitats in Australia, in particular the continental slope area between North West Cape and the Montebello Trough.

Canyons in the Marine Park link the Cuvier Abyssal Plain to the Cape Range Peninsula and are important for their role in sustaining the nutrient conditions that support the high diversity of Ningaloo Reef.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of:

  • Central Western Shelf Transition—continental shelf with water depths up to 100 m, and a significant transition zone between tropical and temperate species
  • Central Western Transition—characterised by large areas of continental slope, a range of topographic features such as terraces, rises and canyons, seasonal and sporadic upwelling, and benthic slope communities comprising tropical and temperate species
  • Northwest Province—an area of continental slope comprising diverse and endemic fish communities.

Key ecological features of the Marine Park are:

  • Canyons linking the Cuvier Abyssal Plain and the Cape Range Peninsula—an area resulting in upwelling of nutrient rich water and aggregations of marine life
  • Commonwealth waters adjacent to Ningaloo Reef—an area where the Leeuwin and Ningaloo currents interact resulting in enhanced productivity and aggregations of marine life
  • Continental slope demersal fish communities—an area of high diversity of demersal fish assemblages on the continental slope
  • Exmouth Plateau—a regionally and nationally unique deep-sea plateau in tropical waters.

Ecosystems represented in the Marine Park are influenced by the interaction of the Leeuwin Current, Leeuwin Undercurrent and the Ningaloo Current.

The Marine Park supports a range of species including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include breeding habitat for seabirds, internesting habitat for marine turtles, a migratory pathway for humpback whales, and foraging habitat and migratory pathway for pygmy blue whales.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing. Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years. The Gnulli people have responsibilities for sea country in the Marine Park.

The Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation is the Native Title Representative Body for the Yamatji region.

Heritage values

World heritage

The Ningaloo Coast was listed as an area of outstanding universal value under the World Heritage Convention in 2011, meeting world heritage listing criteria vii and x.

The Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Property is adjacent to the Marine Park.

Commonwealth heritage

The Ningaloo Marine Area (Commonwealth waters) was established on the Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004, meeting the Commonwealth heritage listing criteria A, B and C. The Ningaloo Marine Area is adjacent to the Marine Park.

National heritage

The Ningaloo Coast was established on the National Heritage List in 2010, meeting the national heritage listing criteria A, B, C, D, and F and is adjacent to the Marine Park.

*Historic shipwrecks *

The Marine Park contains more than five known shipwrecks listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

Social and economic values

Commercial fishing, mining and recreation are important activities in the Marine Park.

These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Montebello Marine Park

The Montebello Marine Park is located offshore of Barrow Island and 80 km west of Dampier extending from the Western Australian state water boundary, and is adjacent to the Western Australian Barrow Island and Montebello Islands Marine Parks.

The Marine Park covers an area of 3413 km² and water depths from less than 15 m to 150 m.

The Marine Park was proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Montebello Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category VI and includes one zone assigned under this plan:

  • Multiple Use Zone (VI).

Coordinates for the Montebello Marine Park and zone are provided in Schedule 4.

Statement of significance

The Montebello Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Northwest Shelf Province. It includes one key ecological feature: the ancient coastline at the 125-m depth contour (valued as a unique seafloor feature with ecological properties of regional significance).

The Marine Park provides connectivity between deeper waters of the shelf and slope, and the adjacent Barrow Island and Montebello Islands Marine Parks.

A prominent seafloor feature in the Marine Park is Trial Rocks consisting of two close coral reefs. The reefs are emergent at low tide.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of the Northwest Shelf Province—a dynamic environment influenced by strong tides, cyclonic storms, long-period swells and internal tides.

The bioregion includes diverse benthic and pelagic fish communities, and ancient coastline thought to be an important seafloor feature and migratory pathway for humpback whales.

A key ecological feature of the Marine Park is the ancient coastline at the 125-m depth contour where rocky escarpments are thought to provide biologically important habitat in areas otherwise dominated by soft sediments.

The Marine Park supports a range of species including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include:

  • breeding habitat for seabirds
  • internesting, foraging, mating, and nesting habitat for marine turtles
  • a migratory pathway for humpback whales
  • foraging habitat for whale sharks.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing. Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

At the commencement of this plan, there is limited information about the cultural significance of this Marine Park.

The Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation is the Native Title Representative Body for the Pilbara region.

Heritage values

No international, Commonwealth or national listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan, however the Marine Park is adjacent to the Western Australia Barrow Island and the Montebello–Barrow Island Marine Conservation Reserves which have been nominated for national heritage listing.

Historic shipwrecks

The Marine Park contains two known shipwrecks listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976: Trial (wrecked in 1622), the earliest known shipwreck in Australian waters and Tanami (unknown date).

Social and economic values

Tourism, commercial fishing, mining and recreation are important activities in the Marine Park.

These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Dampier Marine Park

The Dampier Marine Park is located approximately 10 km north-east of Cape Lambert and 40 km from Dampier extending from the Western Australian state water boundary.

The Marine Park covers an area of 1252 km² and a water depth range between less than 15 m and 70 m.

The Marine Park was proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Dampier Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category VI and includes three zones assigned under this plan:

  • National Park Zone (II)
  • Habitat Protection Zone (IV)
  • Multiple Use Zone (VI).

Statement of significance

The Dampier Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Northwest Shelf Province.

The Marine Park provides protection for offshore shelf habitats adjacent to the Dampier Archipelago, and the area between Dampier and Port Hedland, and is a hotspot for sponge biodiversity.

The Marine Park includes several submerged coral reefs and shoals including Delambre Reef and Tessa Shoals.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of the Northwest Shelf Province—a dynamic environment influenced by strong tides, cyclonic storms, long-period swells and internal tides.

The bioregion includes diverse benthic and pelagic fish communities, and ancient coastline thought to be an important seafloor feature and migratory pathway for humpback whales.

The Marine Park supports a range of species including those listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include breeding and foraging habitat for seabirds, internesting habitat for marine turtles and a migratory pathway for humpback whales.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing. Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

The Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi, Yaburara, and Mardudhunera people have responsibilities for sea country in the Marine Park.

The native title holders for these people are represented by the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation and Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation.

These Prescribed Body Corporates represent traditional owners with native title over coastal area adjacent to the Marine Park are the points of contact for their respective areas of responsibility for sea country in the Marine Park.

The Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation is the Native Title Representative Body for the Pilbara and Yamatji regions.

Heritage values

No international, Commonwealth or national listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan, however the Marine Park is approximately 10 km north of the Dampier Archipelago (including Burrup Peninsula) national heritage listing, which has significant Indigenous heritage values including rock art sites.

Social and economic values

Port activities, commercial fishing and recreation, including fishing, are important activities in the Marine Park.

These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park

The Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park is located approximately 74 km north-east of Port Hedland, adjacent to the Western Australian Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park.

The Marine Park covers an area of 10,785 km² and a water depth ranges between less than 15 m and 70 m.

The Marine Park was proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category VI and includes one zone assigned under this plan:

  • Multiple Use Zone (VI).

Coordinates for the Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park and zone are provided in Schedule 4.

Statement of significance

The Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Northwest Shelf Province and consists of shallow shelf habitats, including terrace, banks and shoals.

The Marine Park is adjacent to:

  • Eighty Mile Beach Ramsar site, recognised as one of the most important areas for migratory shorebirds in Australia
  • Western Australian Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park, providing connectivity between offshore and inshore coastal waters of Eighty Mile Beach.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of the Northwest Shelf Province—a dynamic environment influenced by strong tides, cyclonic storms, long-period swells and internal tides.

The bioregion includes diverse benthic and pelagic fish communities, and ancient coastline thought to be an important seafloor feature and migratory pathway for humpback whales.

The Marine Park supports a range of species including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include:

  • breeding, foraging and resting habitat for seabirds
  • internesting and nesting habitat for marine turtles
  • foraging, nursing and pupping habitat for sawfish
  • a migratory pathway for humpback whales.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.

Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

The sea country of the Nyangumarta, Karajarri and Ngarla people extends into Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park. Sea country is culturally significant and important to their identity.

They have an unbroken, deep spiritual connection to their sea country, with traditional practices continuing today.

Staple foods of living cultural value for the Nyangumarta, Karajarri and Ngarla people include:

  • saltwater fish
  • turtles
  • dugong
  • crabs
  • oysters.

Access to sea country by families is important for cultural traditions, livelihoods and future socio-economic development opportunities.

The native title holders for the Nyangumarta, Karajarri and Ngarla people are represented by the Karajarri Aboriginal Corporation, Nyangumarta Karajarri Aboriginal Corporation, Nyangumarta Warrarn Aboriginal Corporation, and Wanparta Aboriginal Corporation.

These Prescribed Body Corporates represent traditional owners with native title over coastal area adjacent to the Marine Park and are the points of contact for their respective areas of responsibility for sea country in the Marine Park.

The Kimberley Land Council and the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation are the Native Title Representative Bodies for Kimberley and Pilbara regions.

Heritage values

No international, Commonwealth or national listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan.

Historic shipwrecks

The Marine Park contains three known shipwrecks listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976:

  • Lorna Doone (wrecked in 1923)
  • Nellie (wrecked in 1908)
  • Tifera (wrecked in 1923).

Social and economic values

Tourism, commercial fishing, pearling and recreation are important activities in the Marine Park.

These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Roebuck Marine Park

The Roebuck Marine Park is located approximately 12 km offshore of Broome, and is adjacent to the Western Australian Yawuru Nagulagun/Roebuck Bay Marine Park. The Marine Park covers an area of 304 km² and a water depth range of less than 15 m to 70 m.

The Marine Park was proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Roebuck Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category VI and includes one zone assigned under this plan: Multiple Use Zone (VI).

Coordinates for the Roebuck Marine Park and zone are provided in Schedule 4.

Statement of significance

The Roebuck Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Northwest Shelf Province, and consists entirely of shallow continental shelf habitat.

The Marine Park is adjacent to the:

  • Roebuck Bay Ramsar site, recognised as one of the most important areas for migratory shorebirds in Australia
  • Western Australian Yawuru Nagulagun/Roebuck Bay Marine Park, providing connectivity between offshore and inshore coastal waters of Roebuck Bay.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of the Northwest Shelf Province—a dynamic environment influenced by strong tides, cyclonic storms, long-period swells and internal tides.

The bioregion includes diverse benthic and pelagic fish communities, and ancient coastline thought to be an important seafloor feature and migratory pathway for humpback whales.

The Marine Park supports a range of species including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include breeding and resting habitat for seabirds, foraging and internesting habitat for marine turtles, a migratory pathway for humpback whales and foraging habitat for dugong.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing. Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

Yawuru people have always recognised the waters of Roebuck Bay as nagula (Yawuru sea country), and have customary responsibilities to care for it.

They have a deep spiritual connection to offshore landscapes from Bugarrigarra (creator beings), and believe that snake-like metaphysical beings inhabit the sea.

Cultural sites in sea country are also a source of law.

The Yawuru people harvest marine resources according to the six Yawuru seasons. They have harvested pearl shell for food and cultural purposes.

Fish are a staple food source, and fishing a form of cultural expression, connecting people to their country, modelled on tradition and based in traditional law.

Access to sea country by families is important to cultural traditions, livelihoods and future socio-economic development opportunities.

The Yawuru Native Title Holders Aboriginal Corporation is the Prescribed Body Corporate representing traditional owners with native title over coastal areas adjacent to the Marine Park, and is the point of contact for sea country in the Marine Park.

The Kimberley Land Council is the Native Title Representative Body for the Kimberley region.

Heritage values

No international, Commonwealth or national listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan, however the Marine Park is adjacent to the West Kimberley National Heritage Place.

Social and economic values

Tourism, commercial fishing, pearling and recreation, including fishing, are important activities that occur in the Marine Park.

These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Mermaid Reef Marine Park

The Mermaid Reef Marine Park is located approximately 280 km north-west of Broome, adjacent to the Argo–Rowley Terrace Marine Park and approximately 13 km from the Western Australian Rowley Shoals Marine Park.

The Marine Park covers an area of 540 km² and water depths from less than 15 m to 500 m.

The Marine Park was originally proclaimed under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 on 10 April 1991 as the Mermaid Reef Marine National Nature Reserve, and proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Mermaid Reef Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category II and includes one zone assigned under this plan: National Park Zone (II).

Coordinates for the Mermaid Reef Marine Park and zone are provided in Figure S2.9 and Schedule 4.

Statement of significance

The Mermaid Reef Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Northwest Transition.

It includes one key ecological feature: Mermaid Reef and Commonwealth waters surrounding Rowley Shoals (valued for its high productivity, aggregations of marine life and high species richness).

Mermaid Reef is one of three reefs forming the Rowley Shoals. The other two are Clerke Reef and Imperieuse Reef, to the south-west of the Marine Park, which are included in the Western Australian Rowley Shoals Marine Park.

The Rowley Shoals have been described as the best geological examples of shelf atolls in Australian waters.

The reefs of the Rowley Shoals are ecologically significant in that they are considered ecological stepping stones for reef species originating in Indonesian/Western Pacific waters, are one of a few offshore reef systems on the north-west shelf, and may also provide an upstream source for recruitment to reefs further south.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of the Northwest Transition—an area of shelf break, continental slope, and the majority of the Argo Abyssal Plain.

Together with Clerke Reef and Imperieuse Reef, Mermaid Reef is a biodiversity hotspot and key topographic feature of the Argo Abyssal Plain.

A key ecological feature of the Marine Park is the Mermaid Reef and Commonwealth waters surrounding Rowley Shoals—an area of enhanced productivity and high species richness thought to be facilitated by

internal wave action generated by internal tides in the lagoon.

Ecosystems of the Marine Park are associated with emergent reef flat, deep reef flat, lagoon, and submerged sand habitats.

The Marine Park supports a range of species, including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act. Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include breeding habitat for seabirds and a migratory pathway for the pygmy blue whale.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.

Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

At the commencement of this plan, there is limited information about the cultural significance of this Marine Park.

Heritage values

No international or national listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan.

Commonwealth heritage

Mermaid Reef–Rowley Shoals was established on the Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004, meeting Commonwealth heritage listing criteria A, B, C and D.

Historic shipwrecks

The Marine Park contains one known shipwreck listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976: Lively (wrecked in 1810).

Social and economic values

Tourism, recreation, and scientific research are important activities in the Marine Park. These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Argo–Rowley Terrace Marine Park

The Argo–Rowley Terrace Marine Park is located approximately 270 km north-west of Broome, Western Australia, and extends to the limit of Australia’s exclusive economic zone.

The Marine Park is adjacent to the Mermaid Reef Marine Park and the Western Australian Rowley Shoals Marine Park.

The Marine Park covers an area of 146,003 km2 and water depths between 220 m and 6000 m.

The Marine Park was proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Argo-Rowley Terrace Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category VI and includes three zones assigned under this plan:

  • National Park Zone (II)
  • Multiple Use Zone (VI)
  • Special Purpose Zone (Trawl) (VI).

Coordinates for the Argo–Rowley Terrace Marine Park and zones are provided in Schedule 4.

Statement of significance

The Argo–Rowley Marine Park is significant because it contains habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Northwest Transition and Timor Province.

It includes two key ecological features:

  • canyons linking the Argo Abyssal Plain with the Scott Plateau (valued for high productivity and aggregations of marine life)
  • Mermaid Reef and Commonwealth waters surrounding Rowley Shoals (valued for enhanced productivity, aggregations of marine life and high species richness).

The Marine Park is the largest in the North-west Network, surrounding the existing Mermaid Reef Marine Park and reefs of the Western Australian Rowley Shoals Marine Park.

It includes the deeper waters of the region and a range of seafloor features such as canyons on the slope between the Argo Abyssal Plain, Rowley Terrace and Scott Plateau.

These are believed to be up to 50 million years old and are associated with small, periodic upwellings that results in localised higher levels of biological productivity.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of:

  • Northwest Transition—an area of shelf break, continental slope, and the majority of the Argo Abyssal Plain. Key topographic features include Mermaid, Clerke and Imperieuse Reefs which collectively are a biodiversity hotspot
  • Timor Province—an area dominated by warm, nutrient-poor waters. Canyons are an important feature in this area of the Marine Park and are generally associated with high productivity and aggregations of marine life.

Key ecological features of the Marine Park are:

  • Canyons linking the Argo Abyssal Plain with the Scott Plateau—an area likely to result in upwelling of nutrient rich water and aggregations of marine life
  • Mermaid Reef and Commonwealth waters surrounding Rowley Shoals—an area of enhanced productivity and high species richness, thought to be facilitated by internal wave action generated by internal tides.

The Marine Park supports a range of species including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include resting and breeding habitat for seabirds and a migratory pathway for the pygmy blue whale.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.

Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

At the commencement of this plan there is limited information about the cultural significance of this Marine Park.

Heritage values

No international, Commonwealth or national listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan.

Historic shipwrecks

The Marine Park contains two known shipwrecks listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976: Alfred (wrecked in 1908) and Pelsart (wrecked in 1908).

Social and economic values

Commercial fishing and mining are important activities in the Marine Park. These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Kimberley Marine Park

The Kimberley Marine Park is located approximately 100 km north of Broome, extending from the Western Australian state water boundary north from the Lacepede Islands to the Holothuria Banks offshore from Cape Bougainville.

The Marine Park is adjacent to the Western Australian Lalanggarram/Camden Sound Marine Park and the North Kimberley Marine Park.

The Marine Park covers an area of 74,469 km² and water depths from less than 15 m to 800 m.

The Marine Park was proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Kimberley Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category VI and includes three zones assigned under this plan: National Park Zone (II), Habitat Protection Zone (IV) and Multiple Use Zone (VI).

Statement of significance

The Kimberley Marine Park is significant because it includes habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the:

  • Northwest Shelf Province
  • Northwest Shelf Transition
  • Timor Province.

It includes two key ecological features:

  • the ancient coastline at the 125-m depth contour (an area of enhanced productivity and migratory pathway for cetaceans and pelagic marine species);
  • continental slope demersal fish communities (valued for high levels of endemism and diversity and the second richest area for demersal fish species in Australia).

The Marine Park provides connectivity between deeper offshore waters, and the inshore waters of the adjacent Western Australia North Kimberley Marine Park and Lalang-garram/Camden Sound Marine Park.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of:

  • · Northwest Shelf Province—a dynamic environment influenced by strong tides, cyclonic storms, long-period swells and internal tides. The bioregion includes diverse benthic and pelagic fish communities, and an ancient coastline thought to be an important seafloor feature and migratory pathway for humpback whales.
  • · Northwest Shelf Transition—straddles the North-west and North Marine Regions and in the Northwest includes shelf break, continental slope, and the majority of the Argo Abyssal Plain and is subject to a high incidence of cyclones. Benthic biological communities in the deeper parts of the bioregion have not been extensively studied, although high levels of species diversity and endemism occur among demersal fish communities on the continental slope.
  • · Timor Province—water depths (of the bioregion) ranging from about 200 m near the shelf break to 5920 m over the Argo Abyssal Plain. The reefs and islands of the bioregion are regarded as biodiversity hotspots. Endemism in demersal fish communities of the continental slope is high; two distinct communities have been identified on the upper and mid slopes.

Key ecological features of the Marine Park are:

  • the ancient coastline at the 125-m depth contour—where rocky escarpments are thought to provide biologically important habitats in areas otherwise dominated by soft sediments
  • the continental slope demersal fish communities—characterised by high diversity of demersal fish assemblages.

The Marine Park supports a range of species, including protected species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include:

  • breeding and foraging habitat for seabirds
  • internesting and nesting habitat for marine turtles
  • breeding, calving and foraging habitat for inshore dolphins
  • calving, migratory pathway and nursing habitat for humpback whales
  • migratory pathway for pygmy blue whales
  • foraging habitat for dugong
  • foraging habitat for whale sharks.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.

Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

The Wunambal Gaambera, Dambimangari, Bardi Jawi and the Nyul Nyul people’s sea country extends into the Kimberley Marine Park.

The Wunambal Gaambera people’s country includes daagu (deep waters), with about 3400 km2 of their sea country located in the Marine Park.

The Wunambal Gaambera, Dambimangari, Bardi Jawi and the Nyul Nyul people have an unbroken connection to their sea country, having deep spiritual connection through Wunggurr (creator snakes) that still live in the sea.

Staple foods of living cultural value include:

  • saltwater fish
  • turtles
  • dugong
  • crabs
  • oysters.

Access to sea country by families is important for cultural traditions, livelihoods and future socio-economic development opportunities.

The national heritage listing for the West Kimberley recognises the following key cultural heritage values:

  • Wanjina Wunggurr Cultural Tradition which incorporates many sea country cultural sites
  • log-raft maritime tradition, which involved using tides and currents to access warrurru (reefs) far offshore to fish
  • interactions with Makassan traders around sea foods over hundreds of years
  • important pearl resources that were used in traditional trade through the wunan and in contemporary commercial agreements.

The Wunambal Gaambera, Dambimangari and Bardi Jawi people consider that these values extend into the Kimberley Marine Park.

The Wanjina Wunggurr is law of the Wunambal Gaambera and Dambimangari people and it is recognised that all of the sea country, land, plants and animals were put there by Wanjina Wunggurr.

Under Wanjina Wunggurr law, the Wunambal Gaambera and Dambimangari people have a responsibility to manage country, to maintain the health of the country and all living things.

The Wunambal Gaambera, Dambimangari and the Bardi and Jawi people have had native title determined over parts of their sea country included in this Park.

The native title holders for these people are represented by the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation, Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation and Bardi Jai Niimidiman Aboriginal Corporation.

These Prescribed Body Corporates are the points of contact for their respective areas of sea country for the Marine Park.

The Kimberley Land Council is the Native Title Representative Body for Kimberley region.

Heritage values

No international, Commonwealth or national heritage listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan, however the Marine Park is adjacent to the national heritage place of The West Kimberley.

Historic shipwrecks

The Marine Park contains more than 40 known shipwrecks listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

Social and economic values

Tourism, commercial fishing, mining, recreation, including fishing, and traditional use are important activities in the Marine Park.

These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Ashmore Reef Marine Park

The Ashmore Reef Marine Park is located approximately 630 km north of Broome and 110 km south of the Indonesian island of Roti.

The Marine Park is located in Australia’s External Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands and is within an area subject to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Indonesia and Australia, known as the MoU Box. The Marine Park covers an area of 583 km² and water depths from less than 15 m to 500 m.

The Marine Park contains three vegetated sand cays that are permanently above water: West, Middle and East islands.

The Marine Park was originally proclaimed under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 on 16 August 1983 as the Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve, and proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Ashmore Reef Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category Ia and includes two zones assigned under this plan: Sanctuary Zone (Ia) and Recreational Use Zone (IV).

  • Statement of significance

The Ashmore Reef Marine Park is significant because it includes habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Timor Province.

It includes two key ecological features:

  • Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island and surrounding Commonwealth waters (valued for high productivity and breeding aggregations of birds and other marine life)
  • continental slope demersal fish communities (valued for high levels of endemism).

Ashmore Reef is the largest of three emergent oceanic reefs in the region and the only one with vegetated islands.

The Marine Park is an area of enhanced biological productivity and a biodiversity hotspot, supporting a range of pelagic and benthic marine species and an important biological stepping stone facilitating the transport of biological material to the reef systems along the Western Australian coast via the south-flowing Leeuwin Current which originates in the region.

The Ashmore Reef Ramsar site is located within the boundary of the Marine Park.

The site was listed under the Ramsar Convention in 2002 and is a wetland of international importance under the EPBC Act.

An Ecological Character Description that sets out the Ramsar listing criteria met by the site, the key threats and knowledge gaps, is available on the Department’s website.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of the Timor Province—a bioregion with a depth range from about 200 m near the shelf break to 5920 m over the Argo Abyssal Plain.

The reefs and islands of the bioregion are regarded as biodiversity hotspots.

Ashmore Reef is an important feature of the bioregion.

Endemism in demersal fish communities of the continental slope is high with two distinct communities identified: one on the upper slope, the other mid slope.

Key ecological features of the Marine Park are:

  • Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island and surrounding Commonwealth waters—areas of enhanced productivity in an otherwise low-nutrient environment, of regional importance for feeding and breeding aggregations of birds and marine life
  • continental slope demersal fish communities—an area of high-diversity demersal fish assemblages.

The marine environment of the Marine Park includes habitats associated with two extensive lagoons, sand flats, shifting sand cays, extensive reef flat and large areas of seagrass.

The reef ecosystems are comprised of hard and soft corals, gorgonians, sponges and a range of encrusting organisms, with the highest number of coral species of any reef off the Western Australian coast.

The Marine Park supports a range of species, including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include:

  • breeding, foraging and resting habitat for seabirds
  • resting and foraging habitat for migratory shorebirds
  • foraging, mating, nesting and internesting habitat for marine turtles
  • foraging habitat for dugong
  • a migratory pathway for pygmy blue whales.

Ashmore Reef Ramsar site

The Ashmore Reef Ramsar site includes the largest of the atolls in the region. West Island, Middle Island and East Island represent the only vegetated islands in the region.

Ashmore Reef Ramsar site supports internationally significant populations of seabirds and shorebirds, is important for turtles (green, hawksbill and loggerhead) and dugong, and has the highest diversity of hermatypic (reef-building) corals on the West Australian coast.

It is known for its abundance and diversity of sea snakes. However, since 1998 populations of sea snakes at Ashmore Reef have been in decline.

Cultural values

Indigenous Australians

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing. Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

At the commencement of this plan there is limited information about the cultural significance of this Marine Park.

Indonesian

The Marine Park contains Indonesian artefacts and grave sites and Ashmore lagoon is still accessed as a rest or staging area for traditional Indonesian fishers travelling to and from fishing grounds within the MoU Box.

Heritage values

No international or national heritage listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan.

Commonwealth heritage

Ashmore Reef was listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004, meeting Commonwealth heritage listing criteria A, B and C.

Social and economic values

Tourism, recreation and scientific research are important activities in the Marine Park. These activities contribute to the wellbeing of regional communities and the prosperity of the nation.

Cartier Island Marine Park

The Cartier Island Marine Park is located approximately 45 km south-east of Ashmore Reef Marine Park and 610 km north of Broome, Western Australia.

Both Marine Parks are located in Australia’s External Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands and are also within an area subject to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Indonesia and Australia, known as the MoU Box.

The Marine Park covers an area of 172 km² and water depths from less than 15 m to 500 m.

The Marine Park was originally proclaimed under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 on 21 June 2000 as the Cartier Island Marine Reserve, and proclaimed under the EPBC Act on 14 December 2013 and renamed Cartier Island Marine Park on 9 October 2017.

The Marine Park is assigned IUCN category Ia and includes one zone assigned under this plan: Sanctuary Zone (Ia).

Statement of significance

The Cartier Island Marine Park is significant because it includes habitats, species and ecological communities associated with the Timor Province.

It includes two key ecological features:

  • Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island and surrounding Commonwealth waters (valued for high productivity and breeding aggregations of birds and other marine life)
  • continental slope demersal fish communities (valued for high levels of endemism).

Like the islands of Ashmore Reef, Cartier Island is a biodiversity hotspot and an important biological stepping stone, facilitating the transport of biological material to the reef systems along the Western Australian coast via the south-flowing Leeuwin Current which originates in the region.

Natural values

The Marine Park includes examples of ecosystems representative of the Timor Province—a bioregion with a depth range from about 200 m near the shelf break to 5920 m over the Argo Abyssal Plain.

The reefs and islands of the bioregion are regarded as biodiversity hotspots. Endemism of demersal fish communities of the continental slope is high with two distinct communities identified, one on the upper slope, the other mid slope.

Key ecological features represented in the Marine Park are:

  • Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island and surrounding Commonwealth waters—areas of enhanced productivity in an otherwise low-nutrient environment, of regional importance for feeding and breeding aggregations of birds and marine life
  • Continental slope demersal fish communities—an area of high diversity in demersal fish assemblages.

The Marine Park includes an unvegetated sand island (Cartier Island), mature reef flat, a small, submerged pinnacle (Wave Governor Bank), and two shallow pools to the north-east of the island. It is also an area of high diversity and abundance of hard and soft corals, gorgonians (sea fans), sponges and a range of encrusting organisms.

The reef crests are generally algal dominated, while the reef flats feature ridges of coral rubble and large areas of seagrass.

The Marine Park supports a range of species, including species listed as threatened, migratory, marine or cetacean under the EPBC Act.

Biologically important areas within the Marine Park include breeding and foraging habitat for seabirds, internesting, nesting and foraging habitat for marine turtles and foraging habitat for whale sharks.

The Marine Park is important for a range of other species and internationally significant for its abundance and diversity of sea snakes, some of which are listed species under the EPBC Act.

Cultural values

Sea country is valued for Indigenous cultural identity, health and wellbeing.

Across Australia, Indigenous people have been sustainably using and managing their sea country for tens of thousands of years.

At the commencement of this plan, there is limited information about the cultural significance of this Marine Park.

Heritage values No international, Commonwealth or national listings apply to the Marine Park at commencement of this plan.

Historic shipwrecks

The Marine Park contains one known shipwreck listed under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976: the Ann Millicent (wrecked in 1888).

Social and economic values

Scientific research is an important activity in the Marine Park.