Image: Blue Media Exmouth


  • Government postpones essential marine park protection for wider Exmouth Gulf
  • Large area that’s important for whales, dugongs, corals and sponge gardens remains unprotected, subject to further undefined considerations 
  • Traditional Owners show leadership by advancing Indigenous Land Use Agreement to support land and sea Country in the southern and eastern Exmouth Gulf 

The Western Australian Government has postponed the creation of a marine park across Exmouth Gulf until the next term of government, despite the advice of its own Exmouth Gulf Taskforce last September, which was only revealed in its interim report released today. Environment Minister Reece Whitby had asked the taskforce to provide interim advice on a secure marine reserve over the wider gulf. 

This unfortunate news was buried in a press release celebrating the welcome news of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement for key marine and wetland areas of Exmouth Gulf – Ningaloo’s nursery. 

Protect Ningaloo Director Paul Gamblin said: “We applaud the leadership of the Nyinggulu Traditional Owners who have forged an agreement with the government to progress conservation in some important marine and land areas of Exmouth Gulf and Nyinggulu. This is an exciting and important agreement and we look forward to supporting it in future.

“It is most unfortunate that in the same announcement of positive news for Exmouth Gulf, Environment Minister Reece Whitby also announced that the Cook government will postpone the creation of a multiple-use marine park across the whole of Exmouth Gulf, despite the interim recommendation from the government’s own Exmouth Gulf Taskforce. The government has previously announced the creation of a smaller marine park in Exmouth Gulf, but today’s decision to postpone a marine park across the whole gulf defies scientific advice and broad community expectations. 

“We do not believe there is any justification for the Cook government to further postpone a marine park in the western gulf, which is decades overdue. The western gulf is renowned for its resting humpback whale mothers and calves, dugongs, dolphins, corals, sponge gardens and so much more. This area forms a crucial part of Ningaloo’s famed nature-based tourism economy.

“Exmouth Gulf – Ningaloo’s nursery – urgently needs protection and certainty. The area has been beset by years of community stress from the threat of numerous industrial proposals, including a controversial port and a giant saltworks. Today’s announcement that whole-of-gulf marine protection will be postponed only deepens the uncertainty. 

“Many thousands of Australians have urged the government to protect the gulf. The broad community expects the government to show leadership and follow through on the Environment Protection Authority’s original advice to protect this magnificent area that supports a healthy nature-based economy.”