DANIEL MERCER, The West Australian
Updated July 15, 2011, 2:30 am
Premier Colin Barnett's much-touted Camden Sound marine park in the Kimberley has hit a hurdle amid a turf war between Environment Minister Bill Marmion and Fisheries Minister Norman Moore.
Weeks ahead of the expected release of the multimillion-dollar final plan, it is understood the two ministers and their departments have reached a stalemate over the issue of sanctuary, or "no-take", zones.
The impasse is believed to centre on the draft plan's so-called "wilderness fishing zone" in a prized area of the 700,000ha park.
The proposed zone, which was pushed by Mr Moore and approved by then environment minister Donna Faragher, would allow recreational fishing at Montgomery Reef but forbid commercial angling.
There are also believed to be tensions between the two ministers over another reef system around Champagny Island, which has been designated a sanctuary zone. Mr Moore who has questioned the value of no-take areas, is understood to be concerned the decision could cripple a Kimberley-based mackerel fishing operation.
Environmental groups have branded wilderness fishing outrageous, claiming it fails to protect one of the most biologically important areas of the park, while professional fishers have derided it as a nonsense and discriminatory.
Prominent marine scientist Jessica Meowing, of the University of WA, said the differences between Mr Marmion and Mr Moore seemed intractable and threatened to derail the process.
She called on Mr Barnett, who has called the park one of the most significant environmental developments in WA, to intervene.
The WA Fishing Industry Council, which represents commercial fishers, said the proposed sanctuary zones should be scrapped because they were unnecessary and not based in reliable evidence.
WAFIC has previously argued there should instead be seasonal closures to protect whales.Recreational fishing lobby Redfishes also questioned the validity of no-take zones, but has welcomed the provision of wilderness fishing areas.