Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted on an artificial reef that cannot be legally installed off the coast of Carnarvon.
Not-for-profit fishing organisation Recfishwest received $300,000 from the State Government in 2017 to build a concrete reef off the coast of Carnarvon – 890km north of Perth – to promote tourism and recreational fishing.
Production began in 2020 on the fibre reinforced modules, but was shelved after the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) decided to review their Sea Dumping act (1981).
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) said Recfishwest had been advised that their application for an artificial reef is likely to be declined due to DAWE’s revision on the use of fibre concrete modules for artificial reefs.
A spokeswoman for DPIRD said that the reef modules for Carnarvon had, in good faith, already been made before approvals for the installation had been given. She said a similar artifical reef in the North-Metro area had recently been approved by DAWE.
Recfishwest did not respond to questions on this issue.
On it’s website, a news statement from June 2020 announced the reef, saying it will provide excicitng fishing experiences for families and tourists with small boats because it was to be installed in close proximity to town.
“Matt said there was plenty of community buzz about the reef’s implementation and anglers were particularly keen to target mulloway, mackerel, cod, pink snapper and cobia among other species,” the statement said.
Now, hundreds of artifical reef modules lie unused in Carnarvon, collecting dust and costing the local chamber of commerce thousands of dollars.
Off the coast of WA, seven other artificial reefs have already been placed in Bunbury, Rottnest Island, Dunsborough, Exmouth, Mandurah and Esperance and officials say they have had great success in creating new ecosystems and bringing more fish to the area.
Members of the Carnarvon fishing community said they had highly anticipated the arrival of the reef, after advocating for several years to be considered.
When the reef was first announced, an earlier statement from November 2019 on the Recfishwest website said: “It is great to see the government have listened to the community and committed to deliver new fishing experiences funded using recreational fishing licence fees.”
There is no word yet on when the project will continue, however the cost is now projected to be $1.6m, a steep increase from the initial $300,000.
“DPIRD is working with Recfishwest and the Carnarvon Chamber of Commerce to ensure the Carnarvon artificial reef is installed as soon as possible with appropriate environmental approvals,” the DPIRD spokeswoman said.