World Heritage

Managing the World Heritage Area

As a signatory to the World Heritage Convention, Australia has an international obligation to protect, conserve, rehabilitate, present and transmit to future generations Shark Bay’s World Heritage values.

The Australian Government has primary responsibility for the development and implementation of national policy on World Heritage matters. Implementation is done mostly by the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife in partnership with and input from agencies such as the Department for Planning and Infrastructure, Gascoyne Development Commission, Department for Agriculture and Food, Main Roads Western Australia, Department of Fisheries, Shire of Shark Bay, Yadgalah Aboriginal Corporation, and private land owners and users.

As the lead agency for the day-to-day management of Shark Bay’s World Heritage values Parks and Wildlife is responsible for:

  • managing terrestrial and marine estate under the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984, Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, Environmental Protection Act 1986 and other relevant state and federal legislation
  • overseeing the development and implementation of management plans
  • liaising with agencies, land owners and other parties to ensure that development and management activities do not threaten World Heritage values
  • consulting with agencies and the community to identify and regularly review priorities for the protection of World Heritage values
  • conducting or encouraging relevant research
  • distributing information and implementing educational activities
  • reporting to the Australian Government

While Parks and Wildlife manages Shark Bay Marine Park and Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve, the Department of Fisheries controls fishing activities and zones. Other agencies involved in marine management include the Department for Planning and Infrastructure (boating and marine traffic), and the Western Australian Maritime Museum (maritime heritage artefacts and sites).

The Shark Bay World Heritage Area is located in the Shires of Shark Bay and Carnarvon. Along with their usual municipal roles, the shires’ responsibilities include:

  • managing shire reserves within the World Heritage Area
  • working with state government agencies and other key stakeholders to ensure World Heritage values are not compromised
  • providing input into the management planning process for the World Heritage Area

The Shire of Shark Bay also operates the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre in Denham.

Private land owners and occupiers must ensure their activities do not have adverse impacts on World Heritage values. For example, they are discouraged from land clearing and overstocking. They are also responsible for preventing the introduction of additional feral animal and weed species, and for controlling any new populations which occur.

Where recreation and tourism activities are associated with pastoral leases and other private lands, managers are encouraged to monitor and manage any damage caused by these activities. They are also encouraged to restrict or prevent access to degraded areas and to rehabilitate such sites.

If you’d like to learn more about the management of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, contact:

Cheryl Cowell
World Heritage Project Officer
Department of Parks and Wildlife
61-63 Knight Terrace, Denham WA 6537
Phone:  08 9948 2226 in Australia; 61 8 9948 2226 outside Australia
Fax:      08 9948 1024 in Australia, 61 8 9948 1024 outside Australia
Email: 
 Cheryl.Cowell@dpaw.wa.gov.au 

Shark Bay World Heritage Advisory Committee

The Shark Bay World Heritage Advisory Committee provides advice to the Minister for the Environment and the Environment Protection Heritage Council on matters relating to:

  1. Protection, conservation, presentation and management of the Property from the view point of the community.
  2. Research priorities which contribute to the protection and conservation of the Property and understanding of its natural history.
  3. New information or developments relevant to protection, conservation or presentation of the Property.
  4. The scientific basis of management principles and practices.
  5. Legislative processes for environmental assessment.
  6. The maintenance of outstanding universal values and integrity of the Property.

The committee also has input into the drafting and review of management plans. Committee members in November 2016 are:

Thomas Day, Chair

Professor Diana Walker, Science/technical

Phillip Scott, Science/technical

Peter Green, Broader community

Vacant, Indigenous

Keith Capewell, Indigenous

Therese Morris, Science/technical

Vacant, Local community

Paul Anderson, Local community

Robert Morgan, Local community

Geoffrey Wardle, Broader community

Shark Bay World Heritage Property tenure

A variety of tenures and uses within the Shark Bay property means management can be complex. A ministerial council and two advisory committees work on policy, management plans and other issues affecting the World Heritage Area.

Much of Shark Bay’s World Heritage values can be effectively protected and managed with existing tenure although changes in tenure may improve the protection and management of values in some areas. For example, some lands used for pastoralism have been purchased for conservation purposes.

  • 882 000 ha (40.2%) is marine reserves
  • 687 750 ha (31.4) are other state waters
  • 131 732 ha (6%) is pastoral leases
  • 232 750 ha (10.6%) is ex pastoral lease purchased for conservation
  • 80 015 ha (3.6%) is ex pastoral lease proposed conservation reserve
  • 121 825 ha (5.6%) are national parks, nature reserves, conservation parks
  • 56 607 ha (2.6%) is unallocated crown land, un-managed reserve, shire reserves
  • 842 ha (0.04%) is freehold land

Management plans

Management plans are vital for the protection, conservation and presentation of values. They incorporate legislative requirements with scientific and community information, interests and concerns, and provide a way forward for the management of the World Heritage Area.

Several plans are in place to address the protection and management of Shark Bay’s World Heritage values and conservation reserves: