Survey indicates strong support for Kimberley coast protection

By Murdoch University News

Research indicates strong public support for protecting and conserving much of the Kimberley coastline according to a report for WAMSI’s Kimberley Marine Science Program.

Murdoch University scientist Dr Jennifer Strickland-Munro and her research team conducted an online survey of more than 370 people to find the majority placed a high value on conservation and protection across the coast, including sites not covered by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Increased Aboriginal management was also highly valued.


“The survey results should be considered in the future planning strategies and management of the Kimberley coast and marine environment,” Dr Strickland-Munro said.

Two marine parks have been established along the coast; at Eighty Mile Beach and Lalang-garram/Camden Sound with proposals for three more at Roebuck Bay, Horizontal Falls and North Kimberley.

The Kimberley MPAs are managed for multiple uses including biodiversity conservation, Aboriginal culture and heritage, nature-based tourism, commercial fishing and aquaculture, science/education, recreation and recreational fishing.

The survey asked respondents to place markers on a map to show the coastal and marine areas they valued along with their management preferences for the region. The results showed there were no unvalued places along the entire Kimberley coast.

Figure 2: Responses across the different value categories. Subsistence included food, collection


“We also found that pro-conservation preferences dominated, but significant differences in responses suggest the potential for conflict over future management,” Dr Strickland-Munro said.

Fifteen per cent of the preferences mapped in the survey were pro-development, with resource related preferences supporting commercial fishing, new port and oil and gas developments.

Many value and preference hotspots were located outside the existing and proposed MPAs, including the northern tip of the Dampier Peninsula, the Buccaneer Archipelago and King Sound near Derby.

Figure 3: Hotspot map for values relating to the ‘physical landscape’.  Numbers are the frequency for ‘physical landscape’ values. The location of hot spots varied according to value type. However, Roebuck Bay, the western and northern coastal fringes and marine environments of Dampier Peninsula, the Buccaneer Archipelago, Horizontal Falls and Talbot Bay, and Montgomery Reef appeared as hot spots for a number of values. Sites northward of this also appeared as hotspots, although of less intensity than other area.


“Our findings reinforce the importance of taking a broader, comprehensive and regional view to marine conservation,” Dr Strickland-Munro said.

“In Australia, as elsewhere in the world, marine and coastal management have struggled to include diverse values, knowledge systems and cultural contexts,” she explained. “These social elements of planning are much more challenging to include compared with the biological and physical attributes of MPAs.

“MPAs can be politically-driven in their boundaries and zoning or these processes may not provide the time or resources for significant stakeholder involvement during planning phases to ensure lasting public support.

“The participatory mapping we used in our survey can be a powerful tool to help address this issue, connecting resource users, planners and managers.

“Our research contributes to marine spatial planning, which helps to identify potential conflicts among users and is particularly useful for large areas like the Kimberley that contain both State and Commonwealth jurisdictions,” Dr Strickland-Munro said.


Social values and aspirations for coastal waters of the Western Kimberley project page

Social values and aspirations for coastal waters of the Western Kimberley Report

Research Articles:

Strickland-Munro J, Kobryn H, Brown G, Moore S (2016) Valuing The Wild, Remote And Beautiful: Using Public Participation Gis To Inform Tourism Planning In The Kimberley, Western Australia International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning DOI: 10.2495/SDP-V11-N3-355-364

Strickland-Munro J, Kobryn H, Brown G, Moore S (July 2016) Marine spatial planning for the future: Using Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) to inform the human dimension for large marine parks Marine Policy DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2016.07.011

Pearce J, Strickland-Munro J, Moore S (June 2016) What fosters awe-inspiring experiences in nature-based tourism destinations?, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2016.1213270

Brown G, Strickland-Munro J, Kobryn H, Moore S (Dec 2015) Stakeholder analysis for marine conservation planning using public participation GIS Applied Geography DOI:10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.12.004

The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government’s Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.



Kimberley Marine Research Program