MEDIA RELEASE: Today, a new national advertising campaign was launched to raise awareness of the risks posed to humpback whale mothers and calves from the controversial Gascoyne Gateway industrial port proposed for Exmouth Gulf. The ‘Worth the Risk?’ advertising campaign began today with a full-page advertisement in the West Australian newspaper, digital ads in the Australian Financial Review and on social media. More advertisements, including poster and postcard drops, are in train.

Protect Ningaloo Director, Paul Gamblin, said, “It is unbelievable that in 2021 we’re compelled to mount a campaign to stop an industrial port that would attract massive vessels into one of the world’s most important humpback whale resting and nursery areas. But here we are.”

“No one should be surprised that the Gascoyne Gateway port proposal is drawing such controversy because it is so at odds with what the broad community expects for our most important natural places like Exmouth Gulf, Ningaloo. Our campaign has shown that opposition to industrialisation in Exmouth Gulf is overwhelming.”

“Last month, the WA EPA released its major assessment report on Exmouth Gulf in which it called for protection for the key values of Exmouth Gulf. This included specific mention of Qualing Pool, a beautiful, biodiverse oasis, where the Gascoyne Gateway industrial port would be built. Offshore from Qualing Pool is the famed humpback whale resting and nursing area where mothers feed their calves and rest before taking on the arduous migration to Antarctica.”

“We’re also launching an online letter for people to sign, calling for WA Minister for Environment, the Hon. Amber-Jade Sanderson, to take the EPA’s advice and advance protection for Exmouth Gulf’s environmental, cultural and social values as a priority. This must take precedence over industrial proposals like the Gascoyne Gateway port and the K+S largescale salt production facility. After all, industry has been on notice for many years about the environmental importance and fragility of Exmouth Gulf.”

“The Minister has a unique opportunity to leave a positive legacy for Exmouth Gulf. By stopping industrialisation of the Gulf and protecting its values, this Government would secure the area’s famed tourism industry, support the growing marine research sector and help drive investment in nature-based education, cultural tourism and other low-impact, compatible economic activity. Exmouth Gulf has so much going for it if we apply some common sense and look after what makes it special”, Mr Gamblin added.

Notes to editors:

The EPA report stated: “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 industrial port and shipping channel have said it could have a lifespan of up to a century).

Exmouth Gulf is 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.

Exmouth Shire recently releasing the results of a survey it commissioned on the Gascoyne Gateway port proposal which showed that a clear majority of respondents are ‘strongly opposed’ to it.

Copies of the advertisements, as well as footage of Exmouth Gulf & Ningaloo wildlife (including humpback whales filmed recently in the vicinity of where the port would operate), are available here.