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MEDIA statement

(see also the associated Press Conference)
(see also "Summary Of Expert Warnings On The Proposed Yannarie Salt Mine In Exmouth Gulf" 101kb pdf)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Halt the Salt, an alliance of peak commercial and recreational fishing interests and conservation groups, has today called on the Barnett Government to heed formal advice from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and reject a proposed salt mine that would have a negative impact on the fragile ecosystem of the eastern Exmouth Gulf.

In July this year the EPA categorically rejected the proposal to build a salt mine, taking the unprecedented step of not offering any conditions under which it could proceed. The Environmental Appeals Convenor is also due to provide advice to Environment Minister Donna Faragher later this month on the proponent’s appeal against the EPA’s decision.

Alliance spokesman and Conservation Council of WA Director Piers Verstegen said the EPA's opinion had been backed by a range of government and scientific departments and individual experts including the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Department of Fisheries, the Marine Parks and Reserves Authority and Tourism Western Australia (summary attached).

“This pending decision is a test case for the new State Government. It would be environmental vandalism for the government to make one of its first decisions under the Environmental Protection Act by going against the EPA’s findings and allowing this project to go ahead,” Mr Verstegen said.

A petition containing 2,087 signatures opposing the salt mine will be tabled in State Parliament this week. Initiated in Exmouth by the Cape Conservation Group and MG Kailis with support from the Halt the Salt Alliance, the petition is supported by 4,504 letters of concern sent to the EPA and to the Premier.

Compliance and Projects Manager at MG Kailis, Stephen Hood said the salt mine would have a huge impact on the local tourism, pearling and prawning industries.

“These local industries are collectively worth $165 million every year to the State’s economy, and each one relies on the Exmouth Gulf remaining pristine and sustainable. Environmental damage to the area would have a ripple effect on related industries and communities,” Mr Hood said.

The proposed salt mine also threatens humpback whales (who migrate to the area each year to nurse their young and rest), dugongs and sea turtles as well as the many fish and birds who live and breed in the area.

Recfishwest Policy Officer Kane Moyle said the salt mine would be located in the immediate vicinity of a wetland of national significance and arid zone mangroves, both of which have been listed as two of WA’s most important environmental assets.

“The project could result in a toxic by-product, known as “bitterns”, seeping into the local environment. An excavated inland harbour and other infrastructure will expose the area to sulphides that could destroy mangrove and algal mat habitat,” Mr Moyle said.

“In addition, a massive retaining wall proposed along the salt mine would divert water flow away from the area, starving the Exmouth Gulf ecosystems of vital nutrients. This would impact particularly on mangroves and seagrass meadows, which are breeding grounds for local fish.”

Mr Verstegen has grave concerns that the Barnett Government may be prepared to ignore the EPA's advice and allow the development to occur at any cost to the environment.

“We are urging everybody concerned about the potential negative impacts on our pristine North West coastal environment to go to the Halt the Salt website and make a formal submission to the government against the proposal,” he said.

Further information is available from www.haltthesalt.org.au.


Media contact: Piers Verstegen on 0411 557 892.

The Halt the Salt Alliance was formed by a diverse group concerned about the environmental, social and economical impacts of the proposed salt mine. It includes: • Conservation Council of Western Australia (peak WA conservation body) • Recfishwest (peak WA recreational fishing body) • Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (peak commercial fishing body) • MG Kailis Group (key commercial fishing stakeholder) • Pearl Producers Association (peak pearling industry body) • North West Research Association (voluntary group of concerned scientists) • Cape Conservation Group (Exmouth’s community conservation group) • Australian Conservation Foundation (national conservation body) • Recfish Australia (peak national recreational fishing body) • Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries (peak national prawn fishing industry body)



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