UPDATE Council Advocacy on Proposed Marine Park

Published on Friday, 4 August 2023 at 7:55:00 AM

4 August 2023  - Updated with further developments 11 August 2023


Council continues to advocate towards a balanced outcome for the proposed South Coast Marine Park for the community, one that realises the huge potential this State government project could bring to the region.

This article has been updated with the most recent actions by the Shire President, available in dot points below.  

Actions by Council and the Shire and developments on this topic to date have been:

  • March 2023 - Council heard public deputations from the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club, Esperance Professional Fisherman’s Association and Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation on the proposed park at the March Council Meeting. A Motion was passed, noting the concerns expressed by the recreational and commercial fishing sectors, and committing to write to the Premier and relevant government ministers to point out these concerns.
  • April 2023 –This letter was sent to the Premier, as well as the Ministers for Fishing, Environment and Mines, expressing the concerns stated to Council. The letter also requested the scientific research and evidence underpinning the zoning scheme, and the Socio-economic Assessment informing design of the park.
  • 9 June 2023 - Shire President Ian Mickel, Deputy Shire President Ron Chambers and CEO Shane Burge pursued these concerns during a teleconference with the Minister for Environment, pushing for the research and socio-economic data. They emphasised the need for the information to be provided early enough for the community to properly consider it before the upcoming public consultation on the proposed park. The Minister advised a copy of the Socio-economic Assessment would be provided to the Shire when it was available. To date this Assessment has not been received. Questions have been raised in the media as to whether it has been carried out.
  • 2 August 2023 - The Shire President received a written response to the April letter from the Minister for Environment. The Minister appreciated the support provided by the Shire and acknowledged the Shire queries, saying “The draft proposed zoning scheme aims to minimise impacts to commercial and recreational fishers where possible, while conserving the area’s important biodiversity and cultural values”. The Minister also noted in this letter that “both the candidate areas for zoning and the accompanying report detailing the ecological, cultural and socio-economic rational were provided to key stakeholders, including the Shire”. This information has not been received by the Shire. In addition no acknowledgement of community, industry and Council concerns has been forthcoming from the other Ministers or the Premier.
  • UPDATE - 7 August 2023 – The Shire President responded to the letter from the Minister for Environment with thanks. The President asked again for a copy of the ‘candidate areas for zoning and the accompanying report detailing the ecological, cultural and socio-economic rational’, noting that the Shire has not received this despite the Minister’s statement that it had been provided. It was also noted that Council and the Shire had not had any updates from the Department of Environment and Conservation since the June 9 teleconference, and the issues of compensation provisions for commercial fishing businesses and community mental health were raised. A timeline was requested for commercial fishing business compensation if provisions were endorsed by the State Government, as well as details of the range of mental health services available so these could be publicised to the local community, in particular those who are facing an uncertain business and family future.
  • UPDATE – 10 August 2023 – The Shire President received a phone call from the Minister for Environment’s Chief of Staff, who apologised for the delay in supplying information, and committed to arrange for the supply of the candidate areas for zoning and the accompanying report that details the ecological, cultural and socio-economic rationale. Council and the Shire look forward to receiving this information.

At the date of writing, no additional briefings, information, research, reports or the Socio-economic Assessment have been provided. The best information source available to the Shire so far has been the Department of Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions (DBCA) eNewsletter, published every seven months. 

Since the announcement of the proposed South Coast Marine Park in 2021, Councillors and staff have attended the public meetings held for the community by DBCA and have received Council briefings. Councillors and staff have heard a wide range of views and received information on potential positive and negative impacts from community members, organisations and businesses. They are aware of and appreciate the variety of opinions across different segments of our community, and are determined to use every avenue to influence for the best possible outcome.

Council and the Shire believe an asset of this magnitude, having permanent impacts on the community and businesses of the region, should not be quickly whacked in on the cheap.

The State government must commit to best-practice research and planning, and genuine, informed consultation. 

Without access to the data, scientific research and evidence and the Socio-economic Assessment, reactions to the upcoming public consultation on the proposed park risk being purely emotionally based. Meaningful consultation will only result if respondents have the relevant information available and can submit well rounded observations, reflecting their opinions of the facts presented and carrying the varying emotion of a heavily invested community.

Planning and design of the park needs to be adequately resourced and considered thoughtfully to fulfil many functions; delivering sustainable fishing and tourism business opportunities, safeguarding our precious environment, and allowing continued access to all the recreational activities enjoyed along our coast.

With authentic commitment from the State government this is achievable.

Our community as a whole want to preserve the marine environment; we live here and this is our future. Done right, consulted right, the proposed South Coast Marine Park could be a hugely positive development for our community. Done wrong, long standing viable businesses will be forced to close, tourism from recreational fishing will cease, and the community will be barred from recreational pursuits they have enjoyed for generations.

Council and the Shire will continue to advocate for the proposed park to be planned correctly so the potential for a brilliant outcome, with far reaching benefits for our environment, community, businesses and tourism, is realised.


Letter from Minister for Environment 2 June 2023 

Letter to Minister for Environment 7 August 2023

Media Enquiries:

Mary Bidstrup, Media & Communications Officer


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