Fish Army demand council stance on outer harbour

495758: Fish Army members Shaun Beard and Jenny Hartley outside Cockburn's council chambers. Photo: Ben Smith.
495758: Fish Army members Shaun Beard and Jenny Hartley outside Cockburn's council chambers. Photo: Ben Smith.

AN environmental group intent on protecting the Cockburn Sound from a proposed container port has staged a protest outside the City of Cockburn’s council chambers.

Members of the Fish Army, a group dedicated to fight the outer harbour development in Cockburn Sound, assembled ahead of the City’s September council meeting tonight.

The group demanded a definitive stance from the City of Cockburn over the State Government’s proposed outer harbour in Kwinana, recommended by an independent Westport Taskforce.

Fish Army president Mike Pritchard said they believed the outer harbour would cause significant damage to the marine environment.

“The Cockburn Sound is the biggest snapper nursery and breeding area and there’s also King George whiting, penguins and dolphins,” he said.

“The wharfs they’re looking at putting in could be a lot of damage, but they’re talking about putting this super channel down, they’re going to take this massive channel in Fremantle, double it and make it deeper.

“Nothing’s going to grow on it and it’s going to change the flow of the Sound, which can effect the way fish spawn and increase mortality rates.”

Mr Pritchard confirmed they had plans to protest outside other councils, including City of Kwinana, where a large chunk of the Sound lies.

At the meeting, he asked council for their stance on the outer harbour.

Cockburn chief executive Stephen Cain said the report would come back to council before the end of the year, at which point they would be better equipped to establish a position.

Members of the group wore gaffa tape over their mouths during the meeting to demonstrate their silence, in response to previous criticism they had been unruly – a critique they believed was unfair.

The group held a smoking ceremony before the rally, led by Bibbulman Yorga woman Corina Abraham, who said the Sound had significant importance to the local Aboriginal people.

“Our spirits go out to sea. That land was once connected to this land,” she said.

“The way we connect spiritually with the country is very important and that’s what still lies in the harbour.”

The protest is the second in as many months outside Cockburn’s administration centre, after members of the mobile food vendor industry rallied in August following a proposed policy which would impact the makeup of their menu.