Bremer Bay residents remain apprehensive about the future of a mysterious marine hotspot off the small town’s coast, as they await the outcome of a Federal Government marine park review.
The Bremer Canyon attracts an abundant aggregate of marine life each summer and has garnered international interest from filmmakers, scientists and nature lovers since its discovery in 2013.
A proposed Bremer Commonwealth Marine Reserve is being considered as part of a review of all of Australia’s marine parks, with recommendations by scientific and bioregional advisory panels expected to be submitted to the Federal Government from next month.
Bremer Bay residents are pushing for the reserve to be retained and expanded to protect the canyon and exclude oil and gas exploration permits.
Resident and Bremer Bay Dive operator for 17 years Craig Lebens said the community’s main concern was preventing prospecting by oil and gas companies.
“The community is very concerned about the protection of the Bremer Canyon and inshore area for all the lives and livelihoods that rely on it,” he said.
“I do not think I could find a single person in Bremer who would be for oil exploration because if there was a spill, the entire coastline from Bremer to Albany and across to Esperance could be affected.
“Our beautiful patch of coastline would be finished forever … I might as well close shop and move inland because there would be nothing left.”
Mr Lebens said if the area was not protected, it could have “potentially catastrophic” effects on the town’s tourism, recreational and commercial fishing operations.
“The community is very concerned that nothing is going to happen or if something does happen it will not be a no-go zone for oil or anything else,” he said.
“We are hoping someone from the review panel will come to Bremer to see the unique situation here to see what is at stake.”
A Parks Australia spokeswoman said the bioregional advisory panel considering the review’s south-west region had not visited Bremer Bay but had met with stakeholders in Fremantle and Busselton in February and March.
Issues relating to Bremer Bay had been raised at both meetings.