EPA recognises unique values of Exmouth Gulf

Release date: 
August 20, 2021

Future activities and developments proposed for Exmouth Gulf will need to show
they are compatible with the protection of the key values of this globally significant
area, according to a cumulative impacts study by the Environmental Protection
Authority (EPA).

The EPA’s strategic advice on the potential cumulative impacts on Exmouth Gulf was
delivered to the Minister for Environment Amber-Jade Sanderson today.

The year-long study involved face-to-face engagement with stakeholders and the
Exmouth community, public consultation and targeted meetings with local
government, business and traditional owners.

EPA Chair Professor Matthew Tonts said the strategic advice was formed at the
request of the Minister who sought a thorough understanding of how new proposals
could add to the cumulative impacts on the environmental, social and cultural values
of Exmouth Gulf.

Professor Tonts said the Authority recognised that Exmouth Gulf was under
increasing pressure from uncoordinated human activities and development.

“While there is a broadly held view that Exmouth Gulf is a relatively pristine
environment, its long history of development has contributed to considerable
environmental change,” he said. "Existing and emerging pressures are adding
cumulatively to these environmental impacts.

“There is a risk that impacts from both existing and potential pressures may not be
sustainable, so a high level of protection of the area needs to be a priority.

“Our strategic advice shows there is an opportunity to strengthen the protection of
Exmouth Gulf through avoidance of activities and development that could use
alternative locations.”

The EPA considers the eastern and southern portions of Exmouth Gulf are critical WA
assets that require a high level of protection.

“The state of many key values in the Gulf were found to be in poor condition and an
integrated management approach is required to ensure current conditions do not
deteriorate through further activities and development,” Professor Tonts said.

“Within Exmouth Gulf, avoidance of environmental disturbance should be a key
consideration for all new developments in site selection.”

The EPA recommends establishing a coordinating body, with a clearly defined role in
the environmental protection, planning and management of Exmouth Gulf and its

“The lack of cohesive coordination or integrated management of current activities in
Exmouth Gulf has elevated the risk across most of the values,” Professor Tonts
added. “This is also an opportunity to secure the knowledge and values of the Gulf’s
traditional owners by ensuring they are key partners in future protection and

The strategic advice on the potential cumulative impacts of the proposed activities and
developments on the environmental, social and cultural values of Exmouth Gulf can be
found HERE.

EPA Media Contact: Jenni Storey 0434 734997

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