Fish and their habitats within a particular area can be covered by special protection and management in Western Australian waters by including them within a Fish Habitat Protection Area (FHPA).
These areas are set aside under section 115 of the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 (FRMA) for the following purposes:
the conservation and protection of fish, fish breeding areas, fish fossils or the aquatic eco-system;
the culture and propagation of fish and experimental purposes related to that culture and propagation; or
the management of fish and activities relating to the appreciation or observation of fish.
Under the Act, fish can include a range of organisms including finfish, crustaceans, molluscs, corals, seagrass and algae at all stages of their life cycles.
Mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act.
Western Australia has six FHPAs. From the list below you can download a general information guide, useful if you are planning to visit the area, and/or the relevant Fisheries Management Paper which details the management arrangements for the FHPA.
FHPAs can be established in any area of the aquatic environment (freshwater and marine) which has been identified as having a particular value for the protection of fish and their habitats, education and/or aquaculture and which is considered to require a higher level of protection than other parts of the marine environment. The Minister for Fisheries retains the vesting of an FHPA, or it can be vested within a community group which is a body corporate.
Management of an FHPA is designed and carried out to achieve the purposes outlined in a Plan of Management. This Plan must be made available for public review before it is finalised. This enables interested groups and individuals to have a direct say in how the area should be managed.
FHPAs may restrict non-fishing related activities, such as the use of anchors, if they are considered to be inconsistent with the purpose of the FHPA; for example if there is a risk to damage of fragile marine formations such as coral reefs.
FHPAs are often proposed by community members, and allow us to work with the community to manage the area together. It is important to note that a proponent of an FHPA must first demonstrate its need, as well as local support. A proposal to create an FHPA needs to be endorsed by the Minister for Fisheries before it can proceed.
FHPAs and a marine reserve declared under the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984 cannot exist in the same area. For instance, if a FHPA is already in place when a marine reserve is established, the FHPA will automatically be cancelled.
Fisheries Management Paper No.152 provides further information regarding the process to establish an FHPA.