Conservationists, commercial fishers and Mandurah residents joined forces yesterday to protest against plans for a $1 billion marina and housing development on the eastern side of the Harvey Estuary.
The group says the proposal, which has already been given the green light by the Environmental Protection Authority, will cause irreparable environmental damage to a wetland regarded as internationally important to migratory birds.
Under the proposal by the financially troubled Port Bouvard development group, a 2.5km long channel would be dug through the estuary from Point Grey to the Dawsville Cut. "The dredging would release tonnes of acidic black ooze that would pollute the waterway, destroy the commercially important blue crab fishery and result in the release of foul-smelling rotten egg gas," protesters' spokeswoman Jane O'Malley said.
Yesterday, about 300 residents turned out to oppose the development and call on Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to overturn any State approval of the project.
Federal environmental approval is required because the development has triggered a review under the nation's strongest environmental legislation.
Mandurah mayor Paddi Creevey said her council was greatly concerned at the potential impact of the development on the health of the estuary and was calling on the minister to take a "precautionary approach" and reject the project.
Local Labor MP David Templeman backed the protest, saying the health of the estuary was vital to the health and wellbeing of the people of the Peel region.
Mandurah Licensed Fishermen's Association president Damien Bell said the development would destroy the blue crab fishery and with it the livelihood of the estuary's remaining professional fishers.
A Port Bouvard spokeswoman said the estuary had been studied extensively during the assessment phase and the company was confident the environmental conditions were stringent enough.
"It would be very disappointing if the marina approval is not granted," she said.
'Dredging would release tonnes of acidic black ooze that would pollute the waterway … and destroy the blue crab fishery.' "Protesters' spokeswoman *Jane O'Malley *