Exmouth Gulf wilderness fishing experience threat lifted for now

Recfishwest has welcomed some great news for those who love fishing in the Gascoyne after a shadow over our priceless Exmouth wilderness fishing experiences was lifted – at least for the immediate future.

Last Friday, the WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson instructed the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to provide him with advice on the potential cumulative impacts of current and future developments proposed for Exmouth Gulf such as a salt mine, a new port facility and a pipeline fabrication facility.

The Exmouth Gulf offers an amazing fishing experience. Picture: Exmouth Fly Fishing

“The EPA has advised that current assessments associated with Exmouth Gulf would be halted until the findings from the cumulative impact study are finalised,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.

“This effectively puts on hold the unwelcome Subsea 7 pipeline fabrication facility earmarked for Exmouth Gulf’s Heron Point, near the Bay of Rest.

“With its fish rich shallow waters, mangrove-lined creek system, numerous shoals and scattered reefs the fishing and wilderness experiences on offer in Exmouth Gulf are world-class.

“Exmouth Gulf is one of the State’s great accessible wilderness fishing areas and is the envy of sportfishers from around the country and around the world supporting local fishing tours and bringing millions of tourism dollars to the region.”

A ludicrous idea

The industrialisation of the Exmouth Gulf is simply incompatible with the area’s wilderness values.

The idea of developing an industrial footprint over one of the State’s most accessibly unspoilt fishing areas has always seemed ludicrous.

Recfishwest said exactly this in its submission to the EPA on the proposed Subsea 7 development back in November last year.

Protecting unspoilt fishing areas is critical to Recfishwest. Picture: Kim Burton

Common sense prevails

Dr Rowland said it was great the State Government had taken the threat of industrialisation to the gulf’s environment and social values seriously.

A recent independent review of the Commonwealth’s environmental legislation (EPBC Act) found a need for a greater focus on combined impacts of multiple developments on the environment.

“This approach underestimates the broad-scale cumulative impacts that development can have on a species, ecosystem or region,” the review said.

“Each individual development may have minimal impact on the national environment, but their combined impact can result in significant long-term damage.”

Recfishwest looks forward to hearing more of the detail about what the new EPA assessment will look like and the opportunities for community input.

Recfishwest will of course let you know of any further developments in this regard when more information comes to hand.

A queenfish on fly – yes please! Picture: Ningaloo Sportfishing Charters