Esperance Artificial Reef to boost tourism: MacTiernan

Photo: Graham Cooper.
Photo: Graham Cooper.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan has praised the Esperance community for their role in driving a $600,000 artificial reef development expected to boost tourism.

The 150 tonne reef, consisting of more than 120 concrete modules, was deployed about five kilometres south-east of Bandy Creek on January 10 and 11 and is expected to provide locals and tourists access to safe fishing experiences.

The development, which has been more than six years in the making, will create a new ecosystem and marine food web for nearshore, demersal and pelagic finfish species.

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Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the development had helped the local economy and would be beneficial for tourism in the region.

“This project has helped the Esperance economy, with all construction materials and labour procured locally, and we applaud the spirit of the local volunteers who rolled up their sleeves to pour the concrete to build the reef modules,” she said.

“The innovative design will attract fish within hours, and by 12 months will also be home to algae and sponges that will colonise the specially designed modules.

“Recfishwest and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development have supported the reef and it’s been funded through fishing licence fees and WA’s Regional Grants Scheme, with benefits that will not only help the local community but also Esperance tourism.”

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly also addressed the likely impact on the local economy and said it would not be long before keen fishers were hooking into the benefits of the new development.

“Like other artificial reef projects around WA, it won’t be long before fishers are hooking into the benefits the new Esperance artificial reef are expected to provide,” he said.

“This will be another chance for Recfishwest’s successful ‘Reef Vision’ citizen science program to monitor how various fish species are using the artificial reef.

“Through the program, the community will be armed with Baited Remote Underwater Video cameras, similar to what volunteers in the South-West, Mandurah and Exmouth are already using to keep an eye on their artificial reefs.

“This project, funded from recreational fishing licence money, will also provide a boost to recfishing tourism in the Esperance region - which will in turn support the local economy.”

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

The project received funding from the state government through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and Regional Grants Scheme.