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Shark Bay, Western Australia

Australia
Factors affecting the property in 1998*
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Lack of implementation of the October 1990 Commonwealth / State agreement (issue resolved) 
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1998
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1998**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998
At its twenty-second ordinary session (June 1998), the Bureau was informed that a petroleum exploration permit had been granted by the State Government of West Australia (WA) for an area located within the World Heritage site. The Observer of Australia assured the Bureau that no development that threatens the World Heritage values of the site will be allowed to take place. IUCN however, voiced its concern about the issue of granting of prospecting licences by State Governments of WA, and of Queensland for locations within World Heritage areas, and called for closer liaison between Commonwealth and State Governments on this matter.

Since the conclusion of the Bureau session in June 1998, the State Party has provided a detailed report describing the administrative structure established, and the resources committed for the conservation of this property. In addition, the Australian authorities have informed the Centre that a mining lease of the Shark Bay Salt Joint Venture (SBSJV) had attracted public comment but is outside of the property and that levee construction occurred outside the World Heritage area. The levee is 5.6 km long and was constructed across Useless Inlet to enclose 2,600 ha of marine waters, adjacent to SBSJV’s existing primary concentration pond, and as part of the expansion of the company’s operations. Approval for the levee construction was granted under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act of 1986 and construction works complied with the environmental requirements set by the Minister for the Environment.

The WA Department of Environment conducted two environmental compliance audits and concluded that SBSJV had satisfactorily implemented environmental conditions during the construction phase. Furthermore, in accordance with a post-construction environmental requirement, marine mega-fauna, namely 13 bottlenose dolphins, 6 loggerhead turtles and 23 green turtles, which were trapped behind the levee, were transferred to open marine waters by SBSJV with the help of professional assistance provided by the Department of Conservation and Land Management.

IUCN has informed the Centre that it will submit a report on the state of conservation of this site, based on information to be provided byits Australian National Committee, at the time of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau.

Action Required
Decision required: The Bureau, after reviewing new information that may be submitted by IUCN at its twenty-second extraordinary session, may make recommendations as appropriate.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

At its twenty-second session, the Bureau was informed that a petroleum exploration permit had been granted by the State Government of West Australia (WA) for an, area located within the World Heritage site. The Observer of Australia assured the Bureau that no development that threatens the World Heritage values of the site would be allowed to take place. IUCN however, voiced its concern about the issue of the granting of prospecting licenses by State Governments of WA, and Queensland for locations within World Heritage areas, and called for closer liaison between Commonwealth and State Governments on this matter.

Since the conclusion of the Bureau session in June 1998, the State Party has provided a detailed report describing the administrative structure established, and the resources committed for the conservation of this property. In addition, the Australian authorities have informed the Centre that a mining lease of the Shark Bay Salt Joint Venture (SBSJV) had attracted public comment but is outside of the property and that levee construction occurred outside the World Heritage area. The levee is 5.6 km long and was constructed across Useless Inlet to enclose 2,600 ha of marine waters, adjacent to existing primary concentration pond, and as part of the expansion of the SBSJV company’s operations. Approval for the levee construction was granted under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act of 1986 and construction works complied with the environmental requirements set by the Minister for the Environment. The WA Department of Environment conducted two environmental compliance audits and concluded that SBSJV had satisfactorily implemented environmental conditions during the construction phase. Furthermore, in accordance with a post-construction environmental requirement, marine mega-fauna, namely 13 bottlenose dolphins, six loggerhead turtles and 23 green turtles, which were trapped behind the levee, were transferred to open marine waters by SBSJV with the help of professional assistance provided by the Department of Conservation and Land Management.

The Bureau was informed that IUCN has received a report on the state of conservation of this site from its Australian National Committee, and that it is in the process of reviewing that report.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 1998

The Bureau requested the Centre to transmit the report from IUCN Australia to the State Party for review. The Bureau furthermore recommended that IUCN provides an up-to-date state of conservation report on this site for the twenty-third session of the Bureau.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1998
22 BUR V.B.19
Shark Bay, Western Australia (Australia)

The Observer of Australia informed the Bureau that the granting of a petroleum exploration permit, on 29 November 1996, by the State Government of West Australia was brought to the attention of the Commonwealth Government in January 1997. In Australia decisions to issue mining exploration permits are taken at the level of the State Government. The State Government appeared to have been unaware that the area for which an exploration permit was issued was located within the World Heritage site. Following the intervention of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of the Western Australian Government has established a panel to assess the development proposal and prepare environmental strategies. The Observer of Australia assured the Bureau that no decision to allow oil exploration activities would be taken until the EPA assessment of the potential environmental impacts of such activities is completed, and no such development will take place if it threatens World Heritage values.

IUCN raised an issue in regard to the report submitted by the Australian. IUCN pointed out references to prospecting licences being issued by the Queensland Government which could have implications for the Great Barrier Reef area and by the Western Australian Government involving part of the Shark Bay World Heritage area. While IUCN noted the Australian statement that mining would not be permitted if it would have adverse effect on the World Heritage properties, and that the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act would override any State action which threatened World Heritage values, IUCN suggested the situation merited closer liaison with the Government over the issuing of property licenses, especially as IUCN understood the Queensland mining laws carried an automatic right to a mining permit following the granting of an exploration licence.

22 COM VII.27
Reports on the State of Conservation of Natural Properties Noted by the Committee

VII.27 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-98/CONF.203/5) and included in Annex IV on the following properties:

  • Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia)
  • Shark Bay, Western Australia (Australia)
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland (Australia)
  • Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)
  • Iguacu National Park (Brazil)
  • Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon)
  • Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (Canada)
  • Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
  • Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
  • Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
  • Los Katios National Park (Colombia)
  • Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)
  • Nanda Devi National Park (India)
  • Whale Sanctuary of El Viscaino (Mexico)
  • Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)
  • Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal)
  • Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)
  • Huascaran National Park (Peru)

The Committee noted that the Bureau's decision reflected the suggestion to establish an informal contact group on mining and World Heritage and that the IUCN "Draft Policy on Mining and Protected Areas" will be circulated.

  • Kamchatka Volcanoes (Russian Federation)
  • Virgin Komi Forests (Russian Federation)
  • Skocjan Caves (Slovenia)
  • Thung Yai-Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries (Thailand)
  • St. Kilda (United Kingdom)
  • Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)
  • Durmitor National Park (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)

The Committee noted the UN official name for the State Party: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

  • Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe)
Report year: 1998
Australia
Date of Inscription: 1991
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (1998) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 22COM (1998)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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