Eco concerns for Ocean Reef harbour

Residents from Perth’s northern suburbs are battling with the State Government over the new Ocean Reef harbour development. The construction of the Ocean Reef Marina is underway, but the community has raised concerns about whether the new development is eco-friendly.

The Ocean Reef Harbour (Photo: Abdulhakim Almuhanna, 2020).

The new project will include a large commercial and retail marina area with 750 boat pens, as well as an outside ocean swimming pool and land for 1000 new homes.

Concerns have been raised that the new marina will be built on an area currently occupied by many endangered plants and reptile species. Environmental activist Ella Rowlands Thompson said the new marina project would affect biodiversity in the surrounding area.

“The Ocean Reef marina is home to endangered and threatened species, such as the splendid fairy-wren, Carnaby’s black cockatoo, quenda, sun moths, echidnas, bearded dragons, and other reptiles, ospreys, grevillea, and quongdong trees which hold large cultural significance to First Nation Australian people,” she said.

Preservation of the environment is vital to combatting global warming and climate change, she said. Therefore, the new Ocean Reef marina development could contribute to climate change through the removal of trees, plants, and coral reefs.

“It is also a concern with the looming threat of climate change that one of our biggest weapons against it, being trees and other plants that naturally sequester carbon, are being ripped away,” Mrs Rowlands Thompson said.

Since the new marina will be located between two others, Hillary’s marina to the south and Mindarie marina to the north, opponents argue there will be no benefit to having a new marina at Ocean Reef.

The Hillarys Marina. Photo: Abdulhakim Almuhanna, 2020.

The Environmental Protection Authority has given the green light to Landcorp’s Ocean Reef Marina development proposal. EPA advised the project was environmentally sustainable and could proceed under strict conditions.

EPA chair Dr Tom Hatton said: “The proposal represented challenges for the local marine environment, however, these could be adequately managed.

“We found if the Ocean Reef Marina was implemented with proper management and monitoring plans in place, the environmental values of the marine park could be protected and there would be no adverse impacts on the water quality outside the marina.”

Curtin University marine ecology and conservation expert Euan Harvey said: “In the short term, the marina will cause localised damage to the marine environment from dredging which results in habitat destruction.”

However, he said: “It is possible that if the marina walls and structures are well designed, then an artificial reef … will establish itself on the hard structures and create a new habitat.”

Professor Harvey said there was a need to balance social, economic, and ecological values when it came to discussing the benefits of the new Ocean Reef Marina.

He explained many people wanted to drive boats and having one or two points for launch and recovery along the coast was better than having people launching off the beach, where they could damage sediment and animals and plants that live in in the sand.

As for the community, some believe that the project will have economic and social benefits.

Ocean Reef resident Victor Tahmizian said: “The marina will be beneficial to the community as long as the environment is being protected, according to Environmental Protection Authority, and it does not contain any high rise development.”

He said it would attract tourists, which is good because tourism which creates local jobs, and family-friendly spaces.

Work on the breakwaters is scheduled to begin by early 2021, with the development of streets and public open spaces beginning later in 2021 or by mid-2022.