In October 2009 the State Government called for submissions on the boundaries for the proposed Bay of Fires National Park. It its submission, the TCT recommended that it was premature and inappropriate to seek public input regarding the boundaries for the proposed Bay of Fires National Park as Aboriginal concerns and existing management problems should have been dealt with first. Also, public input was never sought into the proposed boundaries or other potential uses for the area. Media coverage indicated most people were dissatisfied with the final national park boundaries.
The TCT does not oppose a national park but encourages the State Government to re-start the public consultation process, seeking the views of the Aboriginal community, local residents and users and other interested people in relation to the future uses for public land in the Bay of Fires. Through a more thorough consultation process the TCT believes a broader range of interests can be addressed, including better protection and management of the area.
There are many threats to the natural and cultural values of the Bay of Fires including uncontrolled off-road vehicle use, poorly planned camping areas, coastal shacks, fires, weeds, dogs and tourism developments. Prior to considering a national park the government must work out which ‘traditional practices’ will be banned and which will be allowed. For other national parks, these decisions were not made before their declaration and pre-existing problems have never been satisfactorily dealt with. Prior to proposing boundaries of a national park, the government should commence consultation with recreational users, Break O’Day Council, local and state conservation groups and Aboriginal groups regarding these important management issues.
Specific comments on the boundaries of the proposed Bay of Fires Nnational Park
- The information made available was very brief and not sufficient for the public to make a considered response to such an important matter.
- There are no stated terms of reference for the consultation process.
- The very brief information made available fails to explain why the Ansons Bay Conservation Area and Doctors Peak Forest Reserve were excluded from the proposed national park. This lack of explanation of the rationale is totally unacceptable and serves only to suggest that the proposed boundaries are influenced by vested interests and political agendas rather than being scientifically based.
- The proposed national park would involve two totally disjunct areas, the existing Bay of Fires Conservation Area and the existing Mount Pearson State Reserve. This is quite unusual, presents obvious management problems and sets a bad precedent.
- The coastal part of the existing Bay of Fires Conservation Area running south from Ansons Bay includes some very narrow areas, in some instances extending only to the high tide mark. We wonder how such areas could qualify for national park status.