The Shark Bay World Heritage Area covers 2.2 million hectares and has about 1500 km of coastline. To manage this enormous area efficiently, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has entered into partnerships with other agencies, authorities, industry groups and resource users to manage the land and sea.
Looking after the land
About 122,000 hectares of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area is terrestrial. A huge range of activities are conducted by DEC staff to help conserve and promote the World Heritage values.
DEC staff in Denham are responsible for the majority of day-to day management activities, including feral animal control, weed eradication, landscape and track rehabilitation, road realignment (to protect sensitive ecosystems), camp site and other recreation facility construction and maintenance, interpretive services and coordination of marine reserve management. These activities are conducted in cooperation with agencies such as the Department for Planning and Infrastructure, Gascoyne Development Commission, Department for Agriculture and Food, Main Roads Western Australia, Department of Fisheries, the Shire of Shark Bay, Yadgalah Aboriginal Corporation, and private land owners and users. Learn more about conservation initiatives here
- Denham staff also conduct or support scientific research activities including the captive wildlife breeding program, Project Eden, and research at Monkey Mia. They manage the Monkey Mia dolphin interaction and provide visitor information, often assisted by visiting scientists and volunteers. Denham is also the base for the World Heritage Officer, who coordinates the administrative, consultative, planning and reporting processes necessary to fulfil Australia’s World Heritage obligations.
- DEC regional staff in Geraldton and head office staff in Perth support and oversee the activities of Denham staff and coordinate planning for the World Heritage Area. Tourism and recreation objectives are implemented in consultation with Tourism Western Australia, the tourism industry and local government.
Looking after the water
Almost 70% of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area is marine. The Shark Bay Marine Reserves Management Plan
is implemented primarily by the DEC and the Department of Fisheries, both of which have staff based at Denham and Carnarvon.
- The DEC manages the Shark Bay Marine Park and the Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve,
- The Department of Fisheries controls fishing activities and fishing zones.
Going fishing or boating? Then it’s vital that you understand the various marine park zones administered by the DEC and Department of Fisheries. You should also be aware of the special restrictions for catching snapper in Shark Bay, designed to protect the stocks of this vulnerable fish species. Go here
for more information and to download a brochure outlining the different zones and their restrictions.
The agencies implement marine management using a variety of strategies. Some of these are
- Regular communications with the community, industry and interest groups to encourage support for management efforts. This includes the production of informative brochures, signs and other media.
- Surveillance and enforcement operations. These provide information on the use of the marine area, as well as detecting regulation breaches and helping to detect and prevent accidents.
- Conducting marine research, including studies of pink snapper stocks and Shark Bay’s globally significant dugong population. Discover more research projects here.
Other agencies involved in marine management include the Department for Planning and Infrastructure (responsible for boating and marine traffic), and the Western Australian Maritime Museum (maritime heritage artefacts and sites).
For more information on the management of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, contact