Proposed Exmouth Gulf Development to Undergo Public Environmental Review
A fortnight ago we brought you news that Subsea7, in agreement with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) resubmitted a revised application to build a pipeline construction and launching facility south of Exmouth. We believed this proposal should be assessed through a Public Environmental Review (PER) which would provide the community with the opportunity to have their say on the proposal.
We wanted to keep you updated on this issue as Exmouth Gulf is a unique and extremely important fishing location for West Australians.
We are pleased to inform you that on Tuesday the EPA announced its decision to undertake a Public Environmental Review of Subsea 7’s application. This level of assessment ensures the highest level of scrutiny and transparency during the assessment period.
The EPA received 2498 public comments, of which 2359 called for a full public environmental review. We know a great many of these submissions came from passionate recreational fishers. It’s great to see such a high level of engagement over a proposal in such an important fishing area.
Recfishwest holds concerns over any activities that are not compatible with the amazing wilderness fishing opportunities that the Gulf provides. Our concerns at this stage focus on ongoing public access to the coast, environmental changes that impact fish populations, pipeline launching operations that impacts on fishing activities and a general increase in industrial activities within Exmouth Gulf.
We appreciate those that took the time to write in during the consultation period. We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of this proposal, including further opportunities to comment.
For further info about the proposal, visit the EPA website here: http://www.epa.wa.gov.au/proposals/learmonth-bundle-site
29th May 2019
Subsea7’s Revised Exmouth Gulf Proposal
Subsea7 in agreement with the Environmental Protection Authority recently withdrew an application to build a pipeline construction and launching facility south of Exmouth. This happened after it was decided amendments to the original plan constituted a significant change. One of these significant changes was an increase in planned seabed disturbance within the Exmouth Gulf from 1ha to 1,465ha.
Last week week Subsea7 re-submitted a revised proposal to the EPA that allows for the expanded footprint and increased seabed disturbance. The EPA is currently seeking comment on whether or not they should assess this proposal and, if so, what level of assessment is considered appropriate.
The three most common levels of assessment undertaken by the EPA for any application are:
- Referral Information (RI) – where a proposal is assessed without the need to prepare an (additional) environmental review document.
- Environmental Review (ER)– no public review – where an environmental review document is prepared but there is no public comment period.
- Public Environmental Review (PER) – where an environmental review document is prepared and is available for public comment.
The EPA had previously decided to assess this proposal at the level of a PER. Given the new proposal contains an increase in planned seabed disturbance, Recfishwest can see no reason why the proposal should not once again be assessed at a PER level.
We will be urging the EPA to assess this project through the highest level of review (PER process) to ensure recreational fishers have plenty of opportunity to provide input.
Recfishwest have met with Subsea 7 on multiple occasions regarding this project and we will continue to talk to Subsea 7 and relevant stakeholders to get a better understanding of the proposed development’s impacts.
Here’s what we sent to our members earlier in the week!
Exmouth’s newest fishing playground ‘King Reef’ has been in the water for four months now and locals are already reporting some great catches from the reef. With recent footage collected by Curtin University and Exmouth Reef Vision volunteers we are also seeing some amazing footage from the sea floor.
In an Australian first, six giant steel structures combined with purpose-built concrete modules were deployed in the Exmouth Gulf only 10 minutes from the Exmouth Marina – providing safe and accessible experiences for families in small boats. With a reef the equivalent of 11 Olympic size swimming pools, WA’s latest reef is one of the fastest developing reefs in Australia and will only get better!
As a Recfishwest Member we want to share with you first, the second look of fish that are calling the reef home. 40 species have now been recorded on King Reef! Recently observed Golden Trevally, Amberjack, Pearl Perch and Saddle Tail Seaperch have joined abundant juvenile Red Emperor, big Estuary Cod, Rankin Cod, Spangled Emperor, Tuskfish and Flathead just to name a few.
Did you miss the 1st look at King Reef back in September? You can check that out, including the coordinates for the reef here.
Artificial reefs in Western Australia have been a product of community drive and passion with local fishers pushing for reef installations, transforming areas devoid of bottom structure and habitat to underwater ‘forests’.
Artificial reefs have also benefited the broader local community by supporting local businesses and the economy through increased fishing tourism. The artificial reefs provide not only an opportunity for ecological growth under the water, but also social and economic growth for the community.
So next time you’re in Exmouth, make sure you pay King Reef a visit!
Receive member updates ahead of the rest by signing up now – CLICK HERE.
WA’s latest purpose built artificial reef, ‘King Reef’, has been installed in the Exmouth Gulf, awaiting the fishing community to pay it a visit!
The project is a collaboration between Recfishwest, BHP, NERA (National Energy Resources Australia), Subcon International and Curtin University. Through Recfishwest the project also has support from the passionate Exmouth community and the Western Australian State Government, through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.
Take a look at the video for the whole story inside what makes this project so exciting and paves the way for future engineered ecosystems!
King Reef Coordinates
The week long GAMEX competition held by the Exmouth Game Fishing Club’s (EGFC) from March 16-24 brought thousands of visitors once again to the regional town of Exmouth. As one of the biggest fishing competitions in Australia, GAMEX provides significant benefits back to the local community, including in influx of visitors associated with the event. The importance of events such as this to local communities can not be underestimated, with previous GAMEX events having injected over $1 million into the local economy in just over a week that competitors and their families spend in town.
Opportunities for tourism and marketing around fishing events are enormous and can reap huge rewards for small coastal communities.
‘We see people hiring a car, filling up at the petrol station, driving out to their accommodation, dining in local restaurants and heading out on the water, stocking up on their bait and tackle supply before-hand. WA is renowned for quality recreational fishing experiences and with over 266 fishers in this year’s event, it demonstrates once again the important contribution the EGFC provides to the Exmouth Community.’’ Andrew Rowland, Recfishwest.
Exmouth Tackle Word Owner Jeni Gates said that events such as GAMEX have highlighted the quality of fishing available in Exmouth to an international community.
“Some of the numbers of billfish we have seen caught and released during GAMEX over the past few years combined with the 1084lb blue marlin caught earlier this year has really put Exmouth on the map as a world class billfish destination.”
“Over the last 12 months we’ve seen an influx of anglers from all around the world. Earlier this year we had multiple families visit form South East Asia who all came with the intent of tangling with a big Marlin” Jeni said.
GAMEX also highlights just how important fishing is to the social fabric of small coastal communities.
‘’It’s more than just a fishing tournament. The GAMEX social calendar features functions, children’s clinics, gourmet evenings, family fun days and team dress up nights. The event also includes scientific studies, educational sessions and product information. In short, a wealth of activities for both anglers, and non-anglers.’’ A spokesperson from the Ningaloo Visitors Centre said.
Fishing continues to provide significant health and wellbeing benefits in many small coastal communities in WA, and fishing events such as GAMEX continue to promote the quality of fishing experiences available on our doorstep.
Recfishwest looks forward to being a part of GAMEX 2019 and congratulates the EGFC and Exmouth community on pulling together such a beneficial event.
If you haven’t fished in Exmouth, you haven’t lived! The warm waters of the Ningaloo coast provide some of the best fishing experiences Western Australia has to offer and if this week’s capture is anything to go by, the fishing is better than ever.
An Australian record Blue Marlin was captured this week by Captain Eddy Lawler of Peak Sportfishing Charters.
Eddy is a well-known Marlin champion. He has over 1000 marlin releases to his name, including some recaptures of his own fish. Recently Eddy and others in the Exmouth community have been contributing to Marlin research by releasing fish with satellite tags which will track their movement over a number of months, so when Eddy and his team hooked up on the big Blue this week, they knew they were onto a good fish.
At 494kg, it was the biggest Blue Marlin ever weighed in Australia and the first Marlin of any species over the old 1000lb mark captured in WA. This is a fish that will cement Exmouth’s reputation as a world-class Marlin fishery.
Marlin are extremely fast growing, with a fish of this size estimated to be about 15 years old. Its exact age will be determined by removing its ear bone, which contains growth rings, similar to those found on trees.
Apart from being an excellent capture, a fish of this size is extremely important to fisheries Science. This fish will provide insights into Blue Marlin age, growth rates, feeding behaviours and population dynamics.
The local community plan to make a fibreglass cast of the fish to use to educate visitors to the region on the excellent fishing experiences the region has to offer.
For more on Game fish science in Exmouth, read our article “Fishing is an Exact Science”.
Photos credit: Peak Sportfishing Adventures, Exmouth
Regional fishing hotspots are set to get a boost in 2018 as fish aggregating devices (FAD’s) are deployed in WA regional centres including Exmouth, Geraldton and Albany. With funding from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, local communities are working with Recfishwest to deliver FADs. This will diversify fishing opportunities for locals and visiting fishers alike. FAD’s will provide fishers an opportunity to catch fast growing, highly migratory pelagic species.
Designed to aggregate fish such as Mahi Mahi, Tuna and Billfish, the regional FAD project will see the first FAD installed in 2018. FAD’s have been used successfully throughout Australia, including off the coast of Perth, where the Perth Game Fishing Club deploys FAD’s in November each year. These are accessed regularly by metropolitan fishers and provide high quality fishing for Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo and Marlin.
Some of these FAD’s will be in reach for regular trailer boat fishers with boats of less than 5 metres to enable them the opportunity to catch highly sought after sport fish.
Recfishwest looks forward to implementing this program and will keep subscribers up to date with progress reported through our Broad Cast and social media platforms.
This project was made possible by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.
World leading Australian marine biologist Dr Julian Pepperell will be a special guest at the hugely popular Gamex fishing tournament in Exmouth this month. Gamex organisers will be hoping for better luck this year after a looming cyclone forced the cancellation of last year’s event. Dr Pepperell will be at Gamex as part of his project to use local fishing tournaments to monitor and research important recreational game fishing species.
This project, supported by Recfishwest and the Department of Fisheries, is funded by your licence money through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF). His program encourages fishing clubs and recreational fishers to facilitate and conduct monitoring and biological research on billfish, tuna, sharks, mackerel and other fish captured during major game fishing tournaments throughout WA, as well as during normal game fishing club activities.
In NSW game fishing tournaments have facilitated over 40 research projects from over 20 scientific organisations. These include a range of projects that assist in the management and sustainability of these species through studies of their biology, ageing, genetics, ecology, reproduction and movement.
Dr Pepperell is trialling a new non-invasive genetic sampling technique, which basically involves collecting fish DNA from their external body mucous.
The new technique has been adapted by using ‘FTA Cards’ normally used in human forensic work. FTA Cards are used to store DNA after fish slime has been obtained from the fish and wiped on the cards, ready to be mailed to the lab for genetic analyses.
Marlin and sailfish are ideal subjects for this type of research, as they have been shown to handle catch and release fishing well. Recfishwest believes that Dr Pepperell’s coordinated biological monitoring and sampling program for tournament and club-based fishing in WA will ultimately provide important data for the purposes of better understanding various species, particularly the movement and population genetics of billfish species inhabiting the Indian Ocean about which very little is currently known.
The program is also archiving tissue samples from all fish weighed at the tournaments for potential future use by researchers both locally and globally.
To date, Dr Pepperell has attended three tournaments in WA resulting in 172 fish being sampled and 747 fish being tagged. This project is another example that demonstrates a high level of commitment by recreational fishers towards assisting research to improve our knowledge of the state’s fish stocks.
One of the biggest fishing competitions in Australia, the Exmouth Game Fishing Club’s (EGFC) annual GAMEX tournament was held in Exmouth from March 13-18. A total of 226 competitors from all Australian states and as far away as Japan, South Africa and New Zealand fished from 52 boats during the six-day tournament. Unfortunately, the billfishing was unusually tough by Exmouth’s lofty standards throughout the week, but few would complain after last year’s event had to be cancelled at the last moment due to a looming cyclone. The final billfish stats for the tournament were down on average, with 426 billfish raised, 285 hooked and 119 tagged. The total tag and release catch comprised of 69 black marlin, 34 blue marlin, 15 sailfish and one striped marlin.
Notable captures included an estimated 330kg blue on 37kg for Jarrod Wiggers fishing aboard Crakawoody and an estimated 275kg blue also on 37kg for Brad Greere fishing aboard Time Out. All billfish were tagged and released, with none weighed in this year. Exmouth’s hugely diverse fishing means GAMEX is much more than just a billfish tournament. Queenfish, mackerel (spanish, school and shark), tuna (yellowfin, mack, striped and longtail), golden and gold-spot trevally, barracuda, spangled emperor, cobia, dolphin fish, wahoo and more appeared at the weigh station throughout the tournament for the point score and sub-15kg line class sections. There were a couple of line class records broken during GAMEX.
As always, GAMEX was a major community event and there were big crowds at the EGFC each evening. Highlights of the social calendar for the week included The Novotel Ningaloo Long Table Lunch with special guest chef, former Olympian Eamon Sullivan, and the Rockin’ the Boat live music night. IFish’s Paul Worsteling helped MC the presentation night, with EGFC stalwart and club president Jeni Gates. Recfishwest staff were also at the event doing presentations, assisting with research and conducting fishing clinics with over 60 local children, who got amongst longtom, fingermark, queenies and bluebone in the marina. As reported in our last Broadcast, world renowned scientist Dr Julian Pepperell conducted numerous DNA sampling on Billfish and large pelagic fish. Read more about what research was being conducted, click here.
There were 226 fishers in this year’s event demonstrating once again the important contribution the EGFC provides to the Exmouth community.
Check out the Exmouth Game Fishing Club for more on Gamex, click here.