Media Release Marine Conservation

New Exmouth Gulf Taskforce confirms urgent need for environmental protection

May 16, 2022

The WA Minister for Environment, Reece Whitby, today announced an Exmouth Gulf Taskforce would be established and funded as one of the McGowan Government’s responses to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report on Exmouth Gulf, delivered in 2021. The EPA report confirmed the Gulf is of global importance, fragile, under pressure and needs conservation attention, and new protected areas (including where major industrial development has been proposed) as a high priority.

Paul Gamblin, Director of Protect Ningaloo, said, “We welcome this announcement by Minister Whitby, and the strong signal it sends that the future of Exmouth Gulf and its economy must be based on protecting the environment rather than threatening it with industrial development. The establishment of the Exmouth Gulf Taskforce is an implicit acknowledgment by Government that the area needs much greater conservation attention, consistent with the EPA’s advice.”

“The Exmouth Gulf Taskforce must take full advantage of this important opportunity to provide a clear conservation direction and long-awaited certainty for the Gulf, which has been buffeted by one major industrial proposal after another in recent years, causing a great deal of concern across the broad community in Exmouth and WA. It’s time to clear the decks forever of industrial threats like the controversial port and a massive salt operation, and instead, support investment in low impact economic activity like ecotourism, cultural tourism, marine science and education.”

“In parallel with the new Taskforce, the McGowan Government’s top priority for Exmouth Gulf must be to follow through quickly on its commitment in December 2021 to protect high priority places like the Qualing Pool precinct and the Eastern Gulf, both at risk from industrial development. A boost in funding from last week’s budget must see this crucial, overdue work accelerated.”

“These are important first steps, however, we also need to see the Government follow up with the protection of other globally significant values of Exmouth Gulf, including the Wetland of National Importance on the eastern side of the Gulf,” said Mr Gamblin.

Minister Whitby and the Minister for Fisheries, Don Punch, also confirmed funding for the creation of a marine park in Exmouth Gulf over the next two years.

“We’re pleased to see the Government allocate new funding for this process which includes essential support for Traditional Owners to fully engage in the joint planning and management of the new marine park.”

“We know there is strong support in the community for marine parks and we must ensure the areas that should be protected in the Gulf are informed by the best available science and the knowledge of people who understand the area and its incredible wildlife and habitats,” said Mr Gamblin.

Notes to editors

The EPA report on Exmouth Gulf delivered in 2021 can be found here. Its recommendations on a ‘coordinating body’ are at Section 3.3 page 36-37. See the EPA’s public statement on the McGowan Government’s response to its recommendations on 3-12-21.

Picture: Exmouth Gulf corals and sponges by Blue Media Exmouth