A proposal to expand the tourist resort at Monkey Mia in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area has been given environmental approval.
Environment Minister Judy Edwards today said she had approved the project that would double the resort’s capacity from 600 guests to 1,200.
Dr Edwards said the expansion of the resort, which included additional staff accommodation and an upgraded wastewater treatment plant, would impact on about five hectares of land.
The Environmental Protection Authority had concluded that clearing this area would not have a significant impact on the area’s vegetation or the habitat of the local population of thick-billed grasswrens that were classified as vulnerable under State and Federal threatened species lists.
The proponent, Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort Pty Ltd, would have to implement a management plan for the birds.
Dr Edwards said the Government was committed to facilitating sustainable tourism developments, particularly in regional areas.
“Shark Bay is one of only a few areas that meet all four criteria for World Heritage Listing for natural values and it is important that facilities are available for the increasing number of visitors,” she said.
The Minister said the EPA had recommended that the area of the beach immediately in front of the resort where visitors interact with dolphins, and the surrounding visitor services area, be vested in the Conservation Commission of WA and managed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management.
The beach area currently is vested jointly in the Shire of Shark Bay and CALM.
“The EPA’s reasoning for this recommendation was that the existing vesting arrangements meant that provisions of the Conservation and Land Management Act and associated regulations could not be applied to effectively manage the impact of visitors on the dolphins,” Dr Edwards said.
“Consequently, I have reached an agreement with the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure for the creation of a reserve over the main interaction and visitor services area that will be vested in the Conservation Commission.
“The welfare of the dolphins - the Shark Bay’s major drawcard for tourists - is paramount and the new vesting arrangements will help ensure that the necessary management and protection measures are in place.
“The Shire of Shark Bay will continue to be a key stakeholder in the overall management of interaction with dolphins and visitor services with the opportunity to be involved in the recently reformed Monkey Mia advisory committee.”
Minister's office - 9220 5050