Protection of our coastline

Coastal change: Port Beach in Fremantle is one of Western Australia's erosion hotspots. Photo: File image.
Coastal change: Port Beach in Fremantle is one of Western Australia's erosion hotspots. Photo: File image.

Given our climate and environment, living close to the beach is one of Western Australia's drawcards.

Across regional WA we are blessed with beautiful coastal communities and our way of life is centred around the proximity to the shoreline.

However, with climate change and rising sea levels a hot topic of national and international debate, there is a growing call for the authorities to address the issue of coastal erosion.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan raised the topic at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Cairns earlier this month and has stated a unified and deliberate response is needed to tackle the issue.

"WA has more than 20,000km of coastline and the issue of coastal erosion is not going away," he said.

"Valued infrastructure, homes and livelihoods are at risk due to major storm events and the global rise of sea levels. This is not a problem exclusive to WA, it's a national problem that needs a national response.

"I have written to the Prime Minister - managing coastal erosion should not just fall onto the lap of local and state governments, especially given the negative impact climate change is having on our coastlines.

"The Commonwealth response to climate change needs to prioritise coastal action and I look forward to discussing this further with my federal and state counterparts."

WA has become the first state in Australia to release a comprehensive report on coastal erosion, with the document made available earlier this month.

It details 55 locations across the state - 15 metropolitan and 40 regional - that have varying levels of risk.

An additional 31 locations have been placed on a watch-list for future monitoring.

Mr McGowan said the cost of nullifying coastal erosion at these at-risk sites would be about $110 million across the next five years.

The state government report listed at-risk sites as hotspots, spanning from Broome in the north to Esperance in the south.

Three locations within the City of Mandurah were included, with Doddies Beach, Mandurah's Northern Beaches and Falcon Bay identified.

The Cut and Koombana Beach in the City of Bunbury were also listed.

In the City of Busselton, six sites were included - two locations at Wonnerup Beach, King Street, Craig Street, Abbey and Locke Estate.

Esperance Town Beach and Hopetoun Foreshore were the most southern sites listed.

The Australian Coastal Councils Association (ACCA) was set up in 2004 and currently has 55 local governments across the country as members.

The organisation's role is to tackle issues for councils operating in coastal locations, with erosion a main area of focus.

ACCA chairman Barry Sammels, who is also the mayor of the City of Rockingham, said he had met with federal environment minister Sussan Ley recently and a combined response was needed.

"We believe that we need bipartisan support and it is an issue for all tiers of government," he said.

"We were really glad and pleased to hear that the Premier came out and said some of the things we have been saying for a number of years.

"I'm surprised it hasn't been on the national agenda and it hasn't been talked about more previously.

"I have written to all state environment ministers to say it needs to be on the agenda and we need to be talking about it."