Further Information Requested on Proposed Marine Park

Published on Tuesday, 11 April 2023 at 12:00:00 AM

14 April 2023 

The Shire of Esperance has requested proposed South Coast Marine Park information be made available to the Esperance community before the Department Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) seeks final community feedback. 

At the March Ordinary Council Meeting, members of the professional and recreational fishing community made deputations, urging Council to write to the Premier and relevant Ministers requesting:

  • The scientific research and evidence that underpin the zoning scheme
  • The social economic assessment

“I want to state from the outset, we are not against a marine park”, said Shire President Ian Mickel. “I think the wider Esperance community sees the benefits of a well-balanced park. There are, however, genuine concerns around the zoning scheme of the current proposal, and the effects it will have on our regional community.” 

The industry and demographic most affected by the proposed marine park are professional fishermen and recreational anglers as well as the wider local population.

“Representatives from the Esperance Professional Fishermen Association and the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club have been part of the consultation process since the beginning. They bought their concerns to Council, stating that alternative options and negotiations have not been reflected in revised mapping.” 

“The proposed sanctuary zones are extensive. For this reason, I have requested that the scientific research and evidence that underpin the requirement for the sanctuary zones be released to Council and the public prior to the final community feedback” Cr Mickel said.

The Shire’s letter also touched on appropriate resourcing for Traditional Owners to jointly manage the proposed park.

“From the beginning, it was intended that the proposed marine park will be jointly managed by DBCA and Traditional Owners. For this to be successful, resourcing needs to be outlined before the park is gazetted,” Ian said “and this also goes for any possible compensation process”. 

“The stress felt by our fishing families at this time is huge. With an uncertain future, and no one willing to address their concerns, we also raised awareness of the mental health impact this process is taking on fishing businesses and community”.

Shire CEO, Shane Burge also commented on the economic changes to the region. “As it stands the proposed marine park will significantly transform our Shire, both environmentally and socially. Council has also requested the social economic assessment from the State Government, which has been completed. We need this to fully understand the changes that could happen in our community, and plan appropriately.” 

On behalf of his Councillor colleagues and community representatives, Ian acknowledged the time, expertise, and work put into the planning process by community representatives and sector advisors. 

“Esperance has amazing aquatic life, currently sustainably utilised and universally respected by locals and visitors. I believe that any well-balanced marine park would be welcomed by the community, however we are yet to see planning for this.”



Mary Bidstrup, Media Officer


Letter to WA Premier, Minister for Environment, Minister for Mines and Petroleum and Minister for Regional Development; Fisheries

5 April 2023 

Dear Premier / Minister, 

Re: Proposed South Coast Marine Park 

I am writing to you today with concerns about the economic and recreational effects of the Proposed South Coast Marine Park will have on the Shire of Esperance communities. 

In 2021 the proposed south coast marine park was announced and the planning process began. Since that time Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) Officers have been working with partners, stakeholders, Community Reference Committee (CRC) and Sector Advisory Group’s (SAG’s) to come to a fair and balanced Marine Park.

On behalf of the Shire of Esperance, its residents, businesses and visitors, I would like to state from the outset, we are not against a Marine Park. There are, however, genuine concerns around the zoning scheme of the current proposal, and the effects it will have on our regional community. 

As it currently stands, this park will radically change the economic, tourism, industry and community landscape of the Esperance Shire. 

The CRC and SAG’s comprises local knowledge, expertise and experience relevant to the south coasts, and representatives of interest groups. These reference groups have been deeply involved throughout the planning process. It concerns me that throughout the process, alternative options and concerns highlighted to DBCA Officers are allegedly being heard, but aren’t being reflected in the revised mapping. The current zoning scheme are extensive. For this reason, I request that the scientific research and evidence that underpin the zoning scheme be released to Council and the public prior to the final community feedback time. There is currently strong consolidated general public opinion that there has been grossly insufficient evidence presented to the community in relation to the zoning strategy. Public trust is understandably decreasing, as they continue to ask the Shire officers questions which we cannot answer due to lack of information. 

The proposed Marine Park is creating a great deal of uncertainty in the business community and has caused many to hesitate in investing or developing in certain areas. This will significantly transform our wider community, both environmentally and socially. I therefore request to view the social economic assessment that has been compiled. The public also has the right to view this document to fully understand the changes that will happen, and plan appropriately for this. 

I am requesting the above information be released to the public. This will go a long way toward establishing a strong and meaningful partnership between the Esperance community and Government departments – resulting in a well-planned and balanced marine park for all to enjoy.

The industry and demographic most affected by the Marine Park are the professional fishermen and recreational anglers.

The Esperance fishing industry is sustainable, and managed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. Within the Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia 2020/21 State of the fisheries publication, fisheries within the Esperance region show low to sustainable / adequate outcomes. Fleets within the Esperance Zone are owned by 20 local families (many third or fourth generation) and operated by some 50 individuals. Produce is caught, processed and packaged locally with most sold within a 200km radius then distributed throughout WA and international export. A massive accomplishment for a small regional town, embracing the Live, Work & Buy Local mentality.

Recreational fishing is fundamental to our region. Strong ties to offshore and onshore fishing is a way of life and a growing tourism activity. Fishers living within the boundary of the Goldfields / Esperance Development Commission, spend around $150m on their fishing passion, every year, with much of that spent in Esperance. The March 2023 Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club attracted over 275 anglers, in 85 boats, to the region. Anglers travelled to Esperance from across Western Australia to attend the event. 600 people attended the weigh-in and this event alone raised $140,000 for the not for profit club and injected a conservative $500,000 to the local economy. The Esperance Land Based Fishing Club also held their competition with 76 anglers sustainably catching fish. These events are a whole of community involvement, with local and visiting anglers spending money at local fish and tackle shops (which we have 5), bait and ice, accommodation, fuel, food & drinks, and other areas in our region. 

Both of these groups are vital to our community as their involvement reaches further than just fishing. The impending changes are weighing heavily on all families involved in the industry, those who fish for pleasure and other members of the community who access the shorelines and waters. We have genuine concerns about the mental wellbeing of those involved in these areas and request the Premier explain what support systems will be in place to help these families and individuals throughout this time. In addition, we would like comment on how awareness for these mental health impacts is going to be raised. 

Traditional Owners, Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, have also been involved in the planning process, and as management partners in the proposed park, have undertaken the responsibilities required of them seriously and to a high standard. Their focus to deliver the marine park with open and collaborative community and professional partnerships has been relayed throughout the consultation process. In order for our Traditional Owners to be successful in conducting research and successfully manage the Marine Park and cultural areas, appropriate resourcing and funding needs to be in place. 

Community sentiment is that the Esperance ‘way of life’ is being threatened, with little explanation and no voice of our own (that is being heard). Esperance has amazing aquatic life, sustainably utilised and universally respected by locals and visitors. Ideally, such grand and unwelcome changes need to be reconsidered so they align more closely to the feedback which we, as a community, have taken great amounts of time to provide. At a minimum, they must be more logically and strategically explained.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to receiving the requested information as part of your response.


Kind regards 

Ian Mickel

Shire President

UPDATE 9 June 2023 

Shire President Ian Mickel and Shire CEO Shane Burge have spoken with the Minister for Environment, Hon Reece Whitby MLA in a phone-meeting. The Minister advised that the Shire of Esperance will be provided a copy of the Socio-economic Assessment when it is available. 

To date this Assessment has not been received.

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