80 Mile Beach, which is in fact 140 miles long, lies between Broome and Port Hedland, along the traditional lands of the Karajarri, Nyangumarta and Ngarla peoples.   

Here, tidal flats extend for up to 5km from the shore at spring tides, and their importance as a foraging ground for hundreds of thousands of migratory wader birds is recognised internationally. Link - RAMSAR site. Every year, turtles return to the beaches in their thousands to lay their eggs. Offshore, the waters are dominated by expansive sponge gardens, which contain the biggest pearl oysters in the world, Pinctada maxima.

Creation of a marine park

In 2013, the 80 Mile Beach Marine Park was declared, with 24% sanctuary zone. The Park’s management plan prohibits mining and commercial fishing within that zone. 

80 Mile Beach has been seismic-tested many times since the 1960s. Oil and gas companies have steadily crept closer. Over the past 30 years commercial gillnet fishing for Threadfin Salmon and Barramundi has been occurring.

Taking action

Adjacent to the 80 Mile Beach Marine Park is the 80 Mile Beach Commonwealth Marine Reserve, where most wild pearlshell is found. 

EK is working closely with the pearling industry in advocating for the whole of this Reserve to be free of mining. Seismic testing has been shown to kill small invertebrate larvae and could destroy the wild pearl-oyster stocks. 

The final Commonwealth management plans are due to be released in late 2017. Take action here.