- State Government takes action to protect vulnerable population of little penguins
- Penguin Island visitation to be restricted during high temperatures, with annual seasonal closure of the island to be extended by at least four weeks
- Planned new discovery centre on Penguin Island will not proceed, with $250,000 committed to investigate relocating the project to the mainland
- $150,000 to support additional penguin research in Perth waters
The State Government will take immediate steps to protect vulnerable little penguins at Penguin Island, following a concerning decline in their population.
Research has shown climate change and warming seawater temperatures are likely to be the main cause of the fall in numbers, impacting the availability of food sources such as whitebait.
Starting this summer, Penguin Island will be closed to the public on the hottest days of the year and during the extended breeding season to protect the population.
Details of the changes include:
- when the forecast maximum temperature for Penguin Island is 35 degrees or higher, the island will be closed or only partially opened;
- the current annual winter seasonal closure of Penguin Island will be extended by at least four weeks to accommodate a prolonged breeding season, which has been extending later each year;
- hot weather management to keep penguins cooler, additional water sources, increased signage and restricted access zones;
- increased monitoring of eight knot speed limit zones around Penguin Island and Shoalwater Bay; and
- increased weed management and rehabilitation efforts to maximise the native vegetation habitat for penguins.
The State Government will also not proceed with the planned new discovery centre on Penguin Island, instead providing up to $250,000 to investigate the feasibility of locating the facility at Mersey Point or at another location on the mainland.
This decision follows careful consideration of feedback from the City of Rockingham, local tourism operators and local penguin researchers.
With the existing Penguin Island Discovery Centre nearing the end of its structural life, the facility will be demolished and the site rehabilitated.
The State Government will also allocate $150,000 for additional research to further understand the status of the little penguin population and how it can be protected into the future.
Comments attributed to Environment and Climate Action Minister Reece Whitby:
"The health and welfare of the little penguins is our number one priority when considering how best to plan for the future of Penguin Island.
"I understand the decision will disappoint some and reduce the number of days that people can visit the island, but I believe the community will support measures to protect this vulnerable population of penguins, which are being impacted by a changing climate.
"The McGowan Government is committed to continue working with the City of Rockingham, commercial tour operators, researchers and the community to help protect penguin colonies on Penguin and Garden Islands.
"I look forward to the findings of the research being undertaken by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and others to better understand how we can support and protect the little penguins into the future."
Minister's office - 6552 6300