Esperance's Cooper Reef now a reality

The modules of Esperance’s ‘Cooper Reef’, have been deployed today and yesterday, January 10 and 11, 2019.

The reef is located about five kilometres off Bandy Creek Boat Harbour, 30 metres under the sea. 

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Cooper Reef has been named after South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council president and Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club member Graham Cooper.

Mr Cooper was a driving force behind the reef.

He has also led fishing safety initiatives in Esperance, Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun by pushing for public safety equipment to be installed at high risk fishing locations on the south coast and by educating local fishers.

Mr Cooper said after six years of planning and work he was relieved to see the modules finally installed.

“It’s a big project, $590,000, and you think, is it ever going to get there,” he said.

“We’ve had very few hiccups and we’ve had full support from the community, the Department of Transport and my committee.”

Mr Cooper said as a representative on the State Recreational Fishing Advisory Council he observed the focus for projects was always on the city.

“Every time I went up there for eight years, it was all to do with the metropolitan and populated areas,” he said.

“I’m going, no, how come we can’t get something down the track?”

The reef project received $300,000 from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund in December 2016, supported by Recfishwest.

The Goldfields Esperance Development Commission then provided matching funding in March 2017.

Mr Cooper said the reef saw “unbelievable” support from local businesses.

“It was all built here in Esperance with local labour.”

Mr Cooper said he was “ecstatic” to have the reef named after his name and his family’s name.

“We’ve been here for 73 years in the Esperance Shire,” he said.

“This is the first time it’s been acknowledged like this.

“But, I couldn’t have done it without my committee and without the support of the local people.”

Local volunteers will continue to drop specialised underwater cameras to watch how the reef develops.

The reef is a mixture of three different artificial module.

The reef will be about 11,400 square metres in size or twice the size of the Ports Football Ovals. 

Community volunteers worked hard over the course of many ‘busybees’ to build the 150-tonne project. 

Recfishwest chief executive officer Dr Andrew Rowland said the local community should be extremely proud.

“The fishing club came to us years ago wanting a reef to be placed close enough that would provide safe fishing options for the community,” he said.

“Now after a few years of design, mapping and construction the club’s dream is now a reality.”

The modules were designed by engineers and marine biologists to maximise the benefit to recreational fishers.

The reef has two areas, each with three clusters of over twenty modules.

It will be an ideal location to safely fish for species such as pink and queen snapper, nannygai, breaksea cod, samson fish, flatheads, whitings, tuna and more.