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Proposal for industrial port

threatens Exmouth Gulf

 

Gascoyne Gateway Ltd is proposing an industrial port at beautiful Qualing Pool in the Gulf, 10km south of Exmouth. A huge rock causeway and pylon wharf structure around 1km long would be constructed, with dredging of the seabed (more than one million cubic metres), impacting or destroying precious marine habitat.

Spectacular footage of Exmouth Gulf, at risk from the proposed Gascoyne Gateway Port.

© Oceanwise

The facility would attract massive ships into Exmouth Gulf, including bulk cargo carriers, offshore oil and gas support vessels, fuel tankers, and cruise liners.  This is no place for major shipping traffic!

We wouldn’t contemplate building a port facility with heavy industrial infrastructure at Rottnest Island and nor should we at Exmouth Gulf.

The natural, intact area where the port would be constructed is home to a rich diversity of life including corals, seagrass meadows, sponge gardens, as well as vulnerable dugongs, whales, turtles, dolphins and birdlife.

Exmouth Gulf is a critical resting area and nursing ground for one of the world’s largest humpback whale populations. It provides calm, shallow and sheltered waters for mother-calf pairs, increasing the chance of survival as they continue their southern migration.

Shipping is known to present a serious risk to humpback whales, including from potential ship strike and also disturbance from underwater noise to their crucial resting and nursing behaviour.

Mother humpback whale nurses calf in Exmouth Gulf

In August 2021, the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) released its much-awaited strategic review of Exmouth Gulf. In its report, Qualing Pool is one of the sensitive areas of local significance that the EPA recommends for a high level of protection. The EPA also notes that Qualing Pool is of significant social and cultural value for Aboriginal people and the local community.

Qualing Pool is a highly important and rare oasis of freshwater on the Gulf, and the wide beach there, known affectionately as ‘Barbeque Beach,’ is one of the most popular in the area.

It’s a place where locals and visitors enjoy going for a snorkel, dropping a line in the water or just relaxing, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It would be tragic to lose these social and community values.

We should instead be looking at securing low-key, sustainable nature-based economic activity for Exmouth Gulf and Ningaloo – such as eco-tourism, marine science, educational and cultural tourism, school education programs, and joint conservation management – that protect and complement the region’s world-class environmental values.

Exmouth locals gathered in unprecedented numbers to show their concerns about the industrial port proposal.