Geraldton council disappointed with Abrolhos Island management plan, set to write to Premier

Lachlan AllenGeraldton Guardian
Aerial view of Abrolhos Islands.
Camera IconAerial view of Abrolhos Islands. Credit: Tourism Western Australia/Australia's Coral Coast

The City of Greater Geraldton councillors have expressed their disappointment with the Abrolhos Islands management plan released by the State Government last month.

The motion, which was carried 7-2 at last week’s ordinary council meeting, directs the CEO to “write to the Premier and relevant Ministers expressing the City’s disappointment.”

It states the Abrolhos Islands management plan “offers almost no scope for the development of mainstream tourism by not allowing permanent tourist accommodation and associated facilities to be built on the Islands.”

Other issues with the plan expressed in the motion include that it does not consider a longer and hardened airstrip on East Wallabi Island, there’s no provision for basic camp ground accommodation while the Pelsaert Islands are ruled out entirely and a lack of additional funding to improve facilities on the islands.

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The State Government plan sets guides for environmental protection as well as the development of tourism and fishing industries on the islands over the next decade, and is the first since the Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park was created in 2019.

The plan lays out guidelines for the monitoring of many species in the region, such as seabirds, sea lions and many plants, the protection of the coral reefs, and new biosecurity plans.

Author of the motion, Cr Victor Tanti, delivered a passionate critique of the plan in council.

“My beef with the Houtman-Abrolhos Islands Management Plan is not so much that it completely fails to consider mainstream and therefore affordable tourism on the Abrolhos, it didn’t even pretend to try,” he said.

“Is there a market for real tourism on the Abrolhos, which by definition would include ecologically sound accommodation and related facilities? We don’t know because the question wasn’t asked.”

While Cr Tanti also said the plan failed to meet the WA Government’s own vision “to provide a world-class sustainable tourism experience and create new jobs and opportunities in the Mid West region.”

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