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.
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.
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.
WA Government commits to conservation reserves for Exmouth Gulf.
The Premier, Mark McGowan, announced on 3 December 2021 that the WA Government will protect parts of Exmouth Gulf, Ningaloo, with some important conservation measures.
These commitments include creating a class-A reserve in the Qualing Pool area, proposed location of the Gascoyne Gateway port, and a marine park on the eastern side of the Gulf adjacent to K+S’s proposed salt works. This sends a clear signal that industrial development is incompatible with the unique, world-class environmental values of Exmouth Gulf.
However, there’s still much work to do. To date, there’s been no indication from K+S Salt and GGL that they won’t proceed with their projects. We need to continue to make our concerns about this proposal heard. We also need to ensure that the WA Government moves efficiently to establish the proposed conservation reserves, as well as protecting other key values of the Gulf, such as the humpback whale resting and nursing area.