The industries that survive and thrive thanks to the Abrolhos Islands
The Houtman Abrolhos Islands not only has a wide range of wildlife that depend on the health of the islands, but also a range of industries.
These industries include;
Commercial fisheries and aquaculture operations
The Abrolhos Islands being a large array of grouped islands surrounded by coral atolls, has a great variety of marine life that has become the livelihood of many West Australian fishermen. The two major marine species of interest are; the Western Rock Lobster and the Black Lipped Pearl Oysters.
Western Rock Lobsters are one of Western Australia’s most sought after crustaceans, both domestically and internationally. Because they are so sought after, there are strict programs in place to protect the population of Western Rock Lobsters. Fishing Licences are granted and regulated by the state Government with strict guidelines on the size and amount of Western Rock Lobsters allowed to be caught each season.
Black Lipped Pearl Oysters are the Oysters that produce world famous black pearls. Famous for their variety and unique colouring, they are referenced in pop culture – Think Pirate ship. The Abrolhos islands is home to this variety of Oyster and there are farms stationed in the waters between the islands that specialise in harvesting these rare treasures.
While not as famous, there are other fishing licences needed for the Abrolhos and industries that rely on these marine creatures. They include;
And, Historically trepang (sea cucumber) or beche demer (Holothuria spp.)
Recreational finfish fisheries
Because of the protection of the Abrolhos islands any boats coming into the Abrolhos Fish Habitat Protection Area must notify the Department of Fisheries first. Because of this many recreational fishermen hire local operators to take them to authorised fishing areas. The charter of recreation fishing vessels is a thriving industry. However, this particular industry tends to be seasonal due to weather. Most recreational boats are chartered from the mainland, so in seasons where the ocean swells are high the boats have their off season.
The Abrolhos Islands’ abundant bird and marine life provided the basis for the guano mining and fishing industries that emerged during Australia’s colonial period. Guano, a fertiliser derived from bird excreta, was mined on a commercial scale from the 1880s to the 1920s, and again in the mid-1940s. Reminders of this industry include stone guano jetties on Pelsaert, Gun and Rat islands, and the foundations of the small gauge railway on Rat and Pelsaert. Mounds of limestone tailings are cast into unusual shapes on Rat and Gun islands.
To adequately protect the Abrolhos Islands, extensive research is done by government and privately funded marine and wildlife biologists. Research is done on migration patterns, breeding numbers, ocean temperatures, coral health, etc. Researchers also evaluate the impact of current and future industries on the islands.
The Abrolhos islands has been the case study for universities, such as Murdoch University.
Being an area of incredible natural beauty, history and as of 2020 a National Park, it’s unsurprising that the Abrolhos Islands is a bucket list item for tourists. Unlike a lot of other islands paradises the Abrolhos hasn’t been over developed, so the visitors get an incredible “Uninhabited Island experience”, with all the perks of safety and quality that are standard in Australia. By both air and sea, you can experience a gem of Western Australia and have that lasting moment to take with you for life.
Want to tick the Abrolhos off your bucket list? See below for our Abrolhos tour options: