McGown tackled

THE McGowan government’s backing of a new container port in Kwinana has been met with “bitter disappointment” by recreational fishing group Recfishwest.

Given the green light in August on the advice of the Westport Taskforce, the new port will move trade from Fremantle to Kwinana either in a single move by 2032 or over a transitionary period. 

The government has already filled the coffers of a newly established Westport Office with $97.2 million to move forward with the taskforce’s recommendations. 

Recfishwest says Westport didn’t adequately address how it would safeguard Cockburn Sound, fearing an impact on pink snapper stocks, the health of the wider aquatic environment and the fishing experience.

Shortcomings

“…of all the millions the Taskforce spent in attempting to better understand what the future looks like, not a single cent was spent on planting seagrass, stocking snapper or building new habitats,” it said in a newsletter to members last week.

Recfishwest operations manager Leyland Campbell told the Herald the government’s decision was premature.

“It is hard to see how any recommendations could have been made when there are so many environmental gaps that still need to be fixed,” Mr Campbell said.

“Having spent millions of dollars and still not know the impacts a new port would have on key fish stocks shows the extent of the Taskforce’s shortcomings.”

Westport acknowledges there are “knowledge gaps in Cockburn Sound” but says a significant environmental program would be undertaken before ground was broken.

“Westport will do everything it can to avoid, mitigate and offset impacts,” chair Nicole Lockwood said.

“The government is investing $29.5 million as part of the next stage of Westport environmental studies, modelling, impact assessment and mitigation.”

by AMELIA CHANNER-HOLMES

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