Government reveals next steps to protect Exmouth Gulf’s wilderness experiences

The State Government has announced its plans to establish a new marine park for the eastern and southern parts of the world-class Exmouth Gulf in order to protect its wilderness experiences.

One of the key values identified by the EPA was recreational fishing and any marine park will need to ensure recreational fishing values and experiences are protected when designing the marine park.

Treasured by many WA fishers and renowned globally, Exmouth Gulf provides a safe and accessible wilderness fishing experience to catch and release amazing species such as permit, giant herring and bonefish.

Thousands of sportfishers travel to the Gulf each year to fish its shallow waters, mangrove-lined creek systems, many shoals and scattered reef while enjoying its serene and secluded setting.

To put it simply, the Gulf is a special place valued highly by local and visiting fishers.

Este Darin-Cooper tempted this queenfish on fly while enjoying the wilderness experiences offered in the Exmouth Gulf. 📸 Ningaloo Fly Fishing

Protecting the Gulf’s wilderness fishing experience

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) released its findings about the potential cumulative impacts of industrial activities and developments proposed for Exmouth Gulf in August.

Read what we had to say following the release of the EPA report, which was good news for fishers, here.

Earlier this month, Premier Mark McGowan announced the Government would progress with its intentions to develop a marine park in the Gulf.

Premier McGowan said the EPA’s recommendations to protect the environmental, social and cultural values of Exmouth Gulf and its surrounds would be implemented.

“The Exmouth Gulf is a unique and incredibly valuable part of Western Australia which will now be protected for future generations,” he said.

Read the Premier’s media release here

Recfishwest is optimistic about this announcement – given there isn’t any benefit in jeopardising this special and precious wilderness fishing experience with future industrial developments.

Importantly, the Government’s statement noted:

“The marine park will make provisions for recreational fishing opportunities.”

There’s still a way to go in this process and Recfishwest is looking forward to hear proposals around how fishing activities will be catered for within the marine park once implemented.

Permit are a sought-after species for fly fishers such as Matt Denton in the Gulf. 📸 Ningaloo Fly Fishing

What’s happened so far?

Recfishwest has been an active contributor to the EPA’s review process.

“In our submission, we strongly made the case that the prized fishing Exmouth Gulf has to offer must be protected,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.

“The fishing is underpinned by its wilderness value and it’s great that the EPA has specifically acknowledged this.

“We are looking forward to hear how fishing activities will be catered for within the marine park once its established and how its design will protect wilderness experiences while fishers are fishing within it.”

The EPA’s report, which was made public in August, recognised:

  • The key amenity values of Exmouth Gulf include wilderness qualities and the local community’s ability to access and use the Gulf for recreational activities;
  • Any future activities and development must be compatible with the protection of the key values; and,
  • An integrated management approach is required to ensure the conservation and enhancement of the key values of Exmouth Gulf.

Dr Rowland added: “Recfishwest is still waiting to learn when this marine park planning process will start, however, we will ensure the Exmouth recreational fishing community’s interests and values are well articulated and represented in  its development.

“We look forward to continuing in future discussions about how the fishing experiences provided by Exmouth Gulf can be protected, forever.”

Glenn Edwards loves exploring the Gulf in his kayak, fishing for species including giant herring.