The ancient Martuwarra Fitzroy River brings life to Western Australia’s Kimberley all along its over 700 kilometres in length. It’s stunning, it’s important to the ecosystem and it’s home to a living Indigenous culture that extends back tens of thousands of years.
Now, the Western Australian government is considering whether to open it up to a huge irrigated agriculture project, meaning water will be taken out of the Fitzroy.
To date, the Kimberley — the largest remaining savannah left on Earth — is the only land region on the Aussie mainland to have zero species extinctions, thanks to its thus far undisturbed ecosystems.
The thing is, Traditional Owners, scientists, environmental experts and recreational fishers are all concerned about the risk this poses to turn the river into the next Murray-Darling River environmental disaster — which is dealing with problems like salinity, erosion, blue-green algal blooms, water quality, and invasive species.
Now one group is working hard to keep the National Heritage-listed Martuwarra Fitzroy River free-flowing and avoid such a risk.
The Kimberley – Like Nowhere Else is working in alliance with leading conservation organisations — like World Wildlife Fund and Wilderness Society — to keep the Kimberley protected and its environment unspoilt.
Why is there so much concern?
The Government Water Paper doesn’t “outline a pathway for the protection and sustainable development of the Fitzroy River”, according to The Kimberley – Like Nowhere Else. Their main areas of concern around the proposal are:
- The proposal of large dams to capture surface flows from the river and floodplains.
- It doesn’t consider the impacts of pollution from agricultural development.
- It doesn’t mention that this river is Western Australia’s longest listed Aboriginal Heritage site, or the protection of it.
- It doesn’t discuss the extreme risk water extraction and pollution from agriculture poses to critically endangered freshwater sawfish.
To read more, and sign the online petition, you can head over to The Kimberley – Like Nowhere Else website.
(Lead image: Instagram / @protectthefitzroy)