Concerns for impact of Ocean Reef Marina on abalone stocks

The proposed Ocean Reef Marina development runs the risk of having a potentially disastrous impact on abalone stocks north of the site, Greens MLC for North Metro Alison Xamon has told Parliament.

Ms Xamon said representatives of the commercial abalone fishing industry had approached her with concerns about the future of the reef

She said the threat to abalone stocks added to her existing concerns about the potential for negative impacts of the development on Bush Forever sites and portions of the Class A marine reserve.

“The 3.5km abalone reef just north of the proposed site contains 40% of abalone stocks in the Perth Metropolitan area,” Ms Xamon said.

“The current flows north close to Perth’s shoreline, so any impacts will be to the north of the development site.”

Ms Xamon said past marina builds in the Perth Metropolitan area had seen localised collapses of abalone stocks and the collapses had all been substantially larger than anticipated.

“The professional fishers have told me the Mindarie Marina was expected to affect 200m of reef, but instead abalone for commercial fishing was wiped out across the 1.2km reef,” Ms Xamon said.

“Abalone were not expected to be impacted at all by the construction of Two Rocks marina – but all abalone stocks were lost on the reef 600m north of the site.

“We do not know why the abalone are dying and there has not been enough research undertaken.”

Ms Xamon said the state’s abalone population had already reduced dramatically, following the 2010 -11 La Nina event.

She said the warm water event resulted in the loss of 99.9% of abalone around Kalbarri – which was previously one of the best sites for commercial abalone fishing.

“Abalone in Perth were ‘stunned’ and didn’t grow that year, while stocks north of Perth were killed off in massive numbers,” Ms Xamon said. 

“The Department of Fisheries later attempted to reseed five sites with abalone – but there has been NO natural recovery, with fishing now not permitted north of Moore River.

Ms Xamon said while the Department had committed to monitoring abalone stocks as part of the Ocean Reef Marina PER, there were no guarantees the species would not suffer adverse consequences.

She said once stocks were gone, they were very unlikely to recover.  

“This is now the main commercial abalone fishery in the Perth Metropolitan area,” Ms Xamon said.

“It was imperative this development meet the highest possible standards of environmentally sensitive design to protect the state’s remaining natural heritage.