Broome-based conservation group Environs Kimberley is signalling the alarm over catastrophic threat risk from foreign vessels bringing invasive species to Roebuck Bay, Broome’s cherished natural asset and the world-famous Kimberley coast. EK is calling for community consultation and an independent environmental risk assessment.

“Roebuck Bay is one of Broome’s most important community assets. Whether it's fishing in the Bay or on the shore, crabbing in the mangroves, exploring the seagrass and reefs or going for a swim at Town Beach, a vast majority of the people of Broome care deeply about it and the Traditional Owner connection is vital,” said Environs Kimberley’s Martin Pritchard.

The State and Federal Governments’ plans to give First Point of Entry (FPOE) status for the Port of Broome would mean foreign vessels could come directly into Roebuck Bay from overseas with the risk of bringing invasive species with them.

“Roebuck Bay has been relatively sheltered from invasive species because foreign ships must quarantine at another port first. We’ve seen disasters like the Black-striped mussel invasion in Darwin, requiring mass poisoning to control it. We don’t want that kind of disaster happening here.”

Marine invasive species can cost millions in damage and efforts to remove them, but once they establish themselves they can be impossible to eradicate.

Questions in the WA Parliament have uncovered marine invasive species at the Port of Broome, including White colonial sea squirt (Didemnum perlucidum), which is originally from the Caribbean. It is known to grow heavily over mussels and oysters and smother them.

Asian Green Mussel has also been found at the Port of Broome.

“We’re calling on the Federal Minister Catherine King and her State counterpart, Minister for Ports David Michael, to consult the community over their plans to open up Roebuck Bay to foreign vessels so that everyone understands the risks involved and can have a say. We’re also calling for an independent environmental risk assessment,” Mr Pritchard said.

“Both State and Federal Governments are putting the Kimberley coast at risk, an area known the world over as being intact. It is worth tens of millions of dollars in tourism revenue,” Mr Pritchard said.

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