Planning for a proposed south coast marine park is in the early stages and a study area boundary (i.e. indicative outer boundary) will be developed following consultation with stakeholders and local communities.
As a starting point, the areas identified within the South Coast and Eucla Bioregions by the Marine Parks and Reserves Selection Working Group in their report, A Representative Marine Reserve System for Western Australia, will be used during consultation with stakeholders and local communities.
These areas were identified for marine reservation based on their conservation, scientific and public recreation values.
More information regarding these areas is provided below.
Broke Inlet is a large, lagoonal, seasonally opened estuary located within D’Entrecasteaux National Park, west of Walpole.
Broke Inlet is the only large estuary on the south coast that has not been significantly affected by development along its shores or within its catchment – as such, it remains in relatively pristine condition. It has high aesthetic value due to its unspoilt nature.
Broke Inlet is used by recreational fishers and supports a small commercial fishery.
This section includes the waters adjacent to William Bay National Park, located west of Denmark, and is characterised by turquoise green waters, white sandy beaches and towering granite rocks. It includes the popular Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks.
Large granite boulders and rock islets provide protection for beaches and deep pools from ocean swells - a unique feature on the south coast. Seagrasses grow in sheltered areas in the lee of islets. Shorebirds, including the hooded plover, nest on sandy beaches. Diverse marine plants and animal’s representative of south coast rocky shore habitats occur here, including important invertebrate assemblages.
This is one of the south coasts most popular sections of coast, particularly because of its high scenic value and relatively protected waters suitable for swimming, snorkelling, diving and fishing.
West Cape Howe
This section includes the waters adjacent to West Cape Howe National Park, located between Albany and Denmark. The coastline is dominated by rocky headlands, sheer cliffs and sandy beaches.
A range of habitats from exposed rocky shores to semi-protected pools and boulders support diverse marine plants and animals. Dense macroalgal beds exist in the shallows on the eastern side of the promontory. Deeper waters offshore in the western part of Torbay support extensive seagrass beds. Diverse and colourful invertebrate assemblages (e.g. sponges, ascidians, soft corals) exist on vertical rock walls and are popular with divers.
The area is also popular with recreational fishers for both beach and rock fishing.
King George Sound to Princess Royal Harbour
King George Sound and its two inlets, Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour, comprise one of the major landform features on the south coast. Albany, the south coast regional centre and main port, is located on these shores.
A variety of habitats within King George Sound, Oyster Harbour and Princess Royal Harbour support diverse and abundant marine and estuarine plants and animals. Of particular importance are the seagrass beds on either side of Vancouver Peninsula and in Frenchman Bay. The deep, sheltered basin in Frenchman Bay is also a unique feature on the south coast. The reefs surrounding Michaelmas and Breaksea Island support diverse and abundant fish and invertebrates (e.g. sponges, soft corals, ascidians) and are popular with divers and tour operators. These areas are of special value for both conservation and recreation.
King George Sound, Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour are also extensively used for recreational purposes and by the Port of Albany.
Cape Vancouver to Bald Island
Located east of Albany, this section of the south coast has outstanding scenery and a variety of coastal habitats with high conservation values.
Several of the emergent rocks and islands on this section of the coast are important haul-out and breeding sites for colonies of Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals. Bald Island is also an important breeding area for the little penguin. Extensive seagrass meadows as well as diverse macroalgal and invertebrate communities exist in Two Peoples Bay. Waychinicup Inlet also contains unique marine and estuarine plants and animals.
This section of coast is relatively remote with limited access. The inshore waters are important for public recreation, especially fishing and diving.
Fitzgerald Biosphere Reserve
This section includes the waters adjacent to Fitzgerald River National Park and the estuarine environments of several small inlets within the park boundaries. The area features rugged peaks and headlands as well as stunning bays and inlets.
The area is listed by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. Doubtful Island Bay is an important nursery area for southern right whales. Extensive seagrass beds also exist beyond the surf zone in Doubtful Island Bay. Doubtful Islands and Point Hood are important areas for Australian sea lion and New Zealand fur seal breeding colonies. Point Hood and the Doubtful Islands are also popular dive sites and support diverse invertebrate rock wall assemblages and large fish populations.
The small inlets of the Fitzgerald River National Park represent a type of semi-permanently closed estuary unique to the eastern section of Western Australia’s south coast. They have considerable scenic value and contribute to the ecological and recreational values of Fitzgerald River National Park, as well as to the integrity of the area as a Biosphere Reserve.
The scenic quality of the coast makes it popular with sightseers. It is also an important area for recreational and commercial fishers.
This section includes the waters adjacent to Stokes National Park, encompassing Margaret Cove, Dunster Castle Bay and Fanny Cove, and includes Torradup and Stokes Inlets.
The repeated sequence of rocky headland-beach present along this section is representative of the south coast, although the headlands are low and without high cliffs. Dense seagrass beds exist in sheltered areas along this section of coast, especially in the coves. The near-shore limestone reefs, which are a common feature at the eastern ends of the bays east of Hopetoun, are well represented here. The deep channels between the reefs on the western side of Shoal Cape are a unique feature and support diverse and abundant fish and invertebrate assemblages. This section of coast is popular for sightseeing, fishing, diving and camping.
Stokes and Torradup Inlets have high conservation values representative of south coast semi-permanently closed lagoonal and riverine estuaries. Stokes Inlet supports a more diverse aquatic flora and fauna than other estuaries of similar types further west. The inlet has high scenic value and is an important element of the scenic quality of the surrounding national park. It also has considerable value for its recreational fishing.
The Recherche Archipelago is one of the major features on the south coast, stretching for more than 200 km and including a group of 105 islands and more than 1200 rocky outcrops off the coast of Esperance.
The area is a biodiversity hotspot by global standards and supports a high level of endemism. The islands and islets provide important haul-out and breeding sites for the Australian sea lion and New Zealand fur seal. The breeding colonies here are the largest in Western Australia for both species. Southern right whales migrate through the region to important nursery areas in coastal waters. The Recherche Archipelago has been identified as an Important Bird Area and the islands and islets provide important breeding sites for seabirds, including several migratory and threatened species. High levels of diversity and endemism for both seagrasses and macroalgae are found here. A variety of marine habitats support diverse and abundant fish and invertebrate assemblages, including important recreational and commercial species.
The waters around the islands provide excellent opportunities for fishing and diving and are popular with tour operators. The area is also important to commercial fishers. Esperance Bay lies within the Port of Esperance and is an important trade hub.
Twilight Cove is a spectacular coastal location at the eastern end of Baxter Cliffs. The section of the coast considered here takes in the western shores of the Great Australian Bight, extending approximately 50 km east and west of Twilight Cove.
This section of the coast represents the two coastal types characteristic of the shores of the Eucla Basin – beach backed by high dunes to the east and limestone cliffs with narrow rock platforms to the west. Extensive seagrass beds exist off the beach, protected by limestone reefs. The little penguin nests at sites along the coast near Twilight Cove and there is a breeding colony of Australian sea lions on rocks at the base of Baxter Cliffs.
This is a remote part of the coast with limited access. It is used by recreational fishers and sightseers.
Have your say
Planning for the proposed south coast marine park is in the early stages. A series of focus group meetings and community forums will be held with stakeholders and local communities on the south coast in March 2020. Find out more: dbca.wa.gov.au/plan-for-our-parks/south-coast-marine-park.