Ningaloo moratorium welcomed: more work to be done

May 5, 2004 - Robin Chapple MLC has given cautious approval to the draft document ‘ Carnarvon-Ningaloo Coast - Planning for Sustainable Tourism and Land Use', but has raised concerns that the process has still not put the ecological health of Ningaloo Reef at the centre of the debate.

‘I support the Government's moratorium on further development in Coral Bay, but any lifting of the moratorium should be subject to a detailed analysis of the carrying capacity of the reef as well as the land,' Mr Chapple stated.

‘A key issue is the increasing number of boats out on the reef, and this study doesn't tackle this impact head-on.

‘The Government should be commended for its work addressing the sustainability of the population in Coral Bay, particularly with regards to water management and sewage. But the point is not just the number of people in town, it's how they interact with the reef environment when they get there.

Mr Chapple noted his experience on the reef, observing deep-draft tourist boats which were unable to navigate narrow channels or shallow areas without smashing into coral formations. ‘How are these impacts to be managed if the Government is proposing even more people be based in Coral Bay in the future?'

The Greens will be pushing for any lifting of the moratorium to be contingent on an analysis of ecological carrying capacity, rather than pre-determined upgrades of Coral Bay infrastructure.

‘I congratulate the Government for at least commencing the planning process, and standing firm on blocking any further damaging marina proposals,' Mr Chapple said.

‘This is one of the most careful and inclusive planning studies I am aware of in Western Australia, and I hope the Government will continue in this vein.'

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