Broome and Derby’s recreational anglers say they have been left out of talks as an Australian-first marine park proposal designed to protect environmental and cultural values presses ahead. And the State’s environment department last week refused to address concerns from fishermen about the Buccaneer Archipelago marine parks, pictured, raised with it by the Broome Advertiser. Recfishwest in February flew up to Broome to hear concerns from about 100 anglers, who had gathered at Broome Fishing Club, about the park. The protected area would cover 6600sqkm from north of Pender Bay to east of Koolan Island — parts of which would fall under Mayala, Dambeemangarddee, Bardi and Jawa traditional ownership. Nearly 20 per cent of that area would fall under a special cultural zone, while recreational anglers would have fishing access to 60 per cent of the park. A draft plan was released in December but went under the radar during the festive season. Mayala woman Janella Isaac said news of the park’s progression was “uplifting and fulfilling”. “I feel good inside. It has been a long journey. It’s something Mayala people have aimed for, have inspired for, for a very long time,” she said. “Our old people ... always wanted to find the best way to help manage Mayala country, have a ranger program in place to look after country and protect country for our future. “Through a jointly managed marine park that dream has become real for our people and that is a big achievement.” Under the proposal traditional owners would have rights to customary practices, commercial fishing would be permitted in 60 per cent of the park and charter operators would be able to pay to fish in cultural zones. The park has been heralded so far for the way government and traditional owners have worked to together to build it, but recreational anglers are concerned not all stakeholders are getting fair input. Derby fishing stalwart Darren Cross said efforts to gain information from the State Government to date had been stonewalled. “We are getting nothing from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions as far as feedback,” he said. “The areas they have selected and say you have 60 per cent of this whole vast area, you don’t fish there because there ain’t no fish. “It is like going out to the Simpson Desert and saying you can have all that to hunt kangaroo and there is not a blade of grass you can see within miles so the chance of you finding a kangaroo is not realistic.” Mr Cross said allowing charters but not recreational operators to pay to fish was unfair. Questions raised at the February anglers’ meeting canvassed the failure to involve Recfishwest, the fee-for-access proposal, the park’s impact on fishing tourism in Derby and whether the model would be replicated on the Fitzroy River. “I guarantee there has been no commercial impact study done on the town of Derby about this marine park but if it does go ahead it will put another nail in the coffin,” Mr Cross said. “It is getting up around a $2500 trip to get up there for a long weekend which we spend in Derby — if we can’t go fishing there how much money does that take out of the community?” The Advertiser put these questions to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, which responded with a generic statement. “DBCA and traditional owners have implemented a series of consultations including information sessions and meetings with key stakeholders, during the public submission period,” the statement read. “DBCA and traditional owners are also in regular contact with recreational and commercial fishing stakeholders during the planning process.” DBCA would not answer when the public would get to speak with officers in the Kimberley, nor if Department of Fisheries fish population research was considered in the proposal. While the lack of communication is causing angst, for traditional owners the heightened protection offered by the park cannot come soon enough. Bardi Jawa woman Rosanna Angus said with the Cape Leveque Road sealed, protection of the area was more important than ever. “The cultural zones are very important for sustaining traditional practices like fishing, hunting and gathering and enable us to protect our saltwater culture,” she said. “These cultural zones protect our backyards, areas where we have our stories and our significant sites. “A lot of these places aren’t mapped out, so it’s safety for our culture, but it’s also safety for visitors too.” Kimberley Land Council Bardi Jawa Indigenous protected area coordinator Daniel Oades called for calm as the consultation period played out. “I think some stakeholders are misinterpreting what the different zones will mean,” he said. “I think there will be a time where everyone gets more of an understanding as conversations continue. “It does feel like you’re piloting something that’s great and new, with the new legislation… and to be on the forefront of sea country management – it’s exciting for all involved, because this is what people have been talking about, and what people have wanted in these types of reserves for a long time, and we’ve been able to break new ground starting it in Australia.” “We think we have not had a lot of opportunity to engage to date and this is the opportunity to have the traditional owners... get some input from the recreational fishing groups of the region,” he said. “This area in the West Kimberley is quite unique, it is relatively pristine, the fish stocks are healthy and the fishing is great.” “We support marine parks but they need to based on science and clear objectives.” Public submissions close on May 31. The anglers’ meeting was told stakeholders hope to open the park by the end of the year.