Western Australia's largest marine sanctuary, to be created in the state's north, will be jointly managed by the state and traditional owners, the government has confirmed.
At a ceremony at Camden Sound in the Kimberley on Thursday, WA environment minister Albert Jacob signed the first ever joint management agreement for a marine park with the Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation.
The new Lalang-garram Camden Sound Marine Park will safeguard the primary calving area of humpback whales that migrate annually along the WA coast between the Antarctic and the Kimberley.
Other species that will be protected include the newly-discovered snubfin dolphin, marine turtles, dugongs, saltwater crocodiles, and several species of sawfish.
The park ultimately will cover more than 7000 square kilometres, or 700,000 hectares, once the park boundary is extended to the high water mark.
The agreement will also see the employment of existing indigenous rangers in the area.
"The creation of this park ... will not only protect the ocean environment, it will pave the way for training and employment opportunities for traditional owners," Mr Jacob said.
Conservation group Environs Kimberley said the sanctuary was destined to become a tourism icon which would be protected for future generations.
"The natural and cultural values of the Kimberley coast are now truly on the map," director Martin Pritchard said.
Pew Charitable Trusts oceans director Michelle Grady said the sanctuary put WA in a national leadership position on marine conservation.
"In an equally historic step, jointly managing the Kimberley's marine life with traditional owners is a logical step to take to harness local knowledge," Ms Grady said.