The Environmental Protection Authority released its year-long assessment of Exmouth Gulf on Friday 20 August in which it calls for protection of Exmouth Gulf and makes specific reference to protecting areas where major industrial developments are proposed.
Protect Ningaloo Director, Paul Gamblin, said, “The EPA has made a strong statement that Exmouth Gulf, Ningaloo needs greater protection including around Qualing Pool, where the controversial Gascoyne Gateway deepwater port is proposed. The EPA has made clear that the gulf is fragile, of global importance and that large gaps in knowledge remain, and that there is a lack of coordination and protection that government needs to address as a priority.”
“The EPA has also called for high levels of protection for the southern and eastern portion of the gulf, including where K+S Salt, another large industrial project, is proposed.”
In a statement that should end speculation about any further industrial development proposals, the report says: “The EPA will scrutinise activities and developments that lock in pressures or impacts for long periods or are likely to induce cumulative impacts.” (p6, noting the proponents of the Gascoyne Gateway deepwater port and shipping channel have said it would have a lifespan of up to a century).
“Recognising the lack of coordination of government activities in the gulf, the EPA has recommended the Government establish a coordinating body with clearly defined roles for environmental protection, planning and management. Protect Ningaloo welcomes this statement,” said Mr Gamblin.
“The EPA has now provided Minister Sanderson with all the justification she needs to take the next step and confirm that the WA Government will not contemplate industrial development proposals for Exmouth Gulf. This must mark the end of this era of uncertainty once and for all.”
“The Minister has the opportunity to create an outstanding legacy for Exmouth Gulf, Ningaloo, providing certainty that it will no longer be threatened by industrial projects and instead will be protected to support the renowned tourism industry, growing marine research programs, cultural tourism and other low-impact, compatible economic activity,” Mr Gamblin added.
Notes to editors:
The EPA assessment was triggered in August 2020 by the Western Australian Minister for Environment in response to a series of major industrial development proposals for the gulf: Gascoyne Gateway Ltd deepwater port, K+S salt production facility and the Subsea 7 pipeline fabrication facility (subsequently withdrawn).
Exmouth Gulf is also a crucial part of the Ningaloo Reef ecosystem which is why the United Nations recommended that the Australian Government include Exmouth Gulf in the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage area.