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Academic year: 2023



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It provides an overview of the characteristics of Abrolhos that make it so unique. Some ships ventured too far east and ran aground on the Western Australian coast, sometimes fatally. Eight murderers (which Pelsaert considered the worst) were interrogated while being tortured.

Seven of the self-proclaimed murderers, including Cornelisz, were executed in the Abrolhos, while two murderers were stranded on the mainland. In the end, after it was all over, of the 316 people on board the Batavia, only 116 survived. Officers of the Zeewijk, 1727 The Zeewijk was also a VOC ship that sailed from the Cape of Good Hope to Batavia.

Many of the smaller vessels that collided with the Abrolhos were fishing boats, including the Columbia in 1929 on Rat Island. The Abrolhos were considered ideal for tourism and recreation in the first half of the twentieth century.


Most of the islands in the Abrolhos were formed in the central lagoons or on the eastern (leeward) reefs. In the Abrolhos we also find two species of weeds (Amphibolis species) endemic to southern Australia. Seagrass can be torn off the reef base during storms and accumulate in the calm lagoons of the Abrolhos.

The Abrolhos are high latitude coral reefs - some of the southernmost coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. Similarly, populations of some species found on Rottnest Island depend on larvae generated by breeding populations on the Abrolhos. Western Australian dhufish (Glaucosoma hebraicum) occur on deepwater limestone reefs and in the shallower coral areas of the Abrolhos.

Like Samson fish, yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandii) is also protected in the anchorage areas of inhabited islands in the Abrolhos. Wobbegongs (species of the Orectolobidae family) are usually found on or near the seabed at Abrolhos. Marine mammals frequent the Abrolhos waters, with a colony of Australian sea lions living and breeding at the Abrolhos.

The predominant whale species seen at Abrolhos are the humpback whale and the southern right whale. The Abrolhos is one of the most important nesting areas for seabirds in the eastern Indian Ocean. Over two million birds breed on the islands and small rocky atolls in the Abrolhos.

The Abrolhos support Australia's only breeding population of Australian lesser noddies (Anous tenuirostris melanops). Abrolhos supports 80 percent of the Australian breeding population of common noddy (Anous stolidus). There are over 700 herring gulls (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) breeding in the Abrolhos on 25 islands in summer and autumn.

Fishing and Aquaculture



Today, the main commercial fishery in the Abrolhos is the West Coast Lobster Managed Fishery (WCRLMF), which targets the western rock lobster (Panulirus cygnus). The WCRLMF has a long commercial and economic history with the islands and with a land value of $191 million (2008/09) is Australia's most valuable single species commercial fishery, with approximately 18 per cent of the 2008/09 catch coming from Abrolhos waters . Consequently, the contribution of the Abrolhos crab to the breeding output of the overall western lobster stock is greater than the relative proportion of the Abrolhos stock.

It is estimated that approximately 40 to 50 percent of western reef lobster egg production comes from the Abrolhos, so conservation of lobster habitat and breeding stocks is vital to all fisheries. In addition to the commercial rock lobster fishery, recreational western lobster fishing takes place in the Abrolhos. Unlike recreational fishing on the mainland, diving for rock lobster is prohibited in the Abrolhos.

In terms of economic value, the second most important commercial fishery in the Abrolhos is the discus fishery (Amusium balloti) which forms the basis of the Abrolhos Islands and Mid West Managed Trawl Fishery (AIMWTMF). Scallop catches fluctuate from year to year among WA's scallop fisheries, due to environmental factors such as water temperature, strength of the Leeuwin Current and nutrient levels in the water. The main fishing area for scallops in the Abrolhos is the sandy seabed between the different groups of islands.

We called it Snapper Bank, from the immense amount of fish we caught on it. With an increased number of recreational boats in Western Australia and the growing awareness of the Abrolhos as a fishing destination, recreational fishing at the Abrolhos is increasing. The character of the reefs and lagoons at the Abrolhos, combined with their short distance from the commercial port of Geraldton, makes them particularly suitable for the introduction of the larger species of the Mother of Pearl (Pinctada margaritifera) on a significant commercial basis.

The almost pristine waters of the Abrolhos are suitable for aquaculture of a variety of high value species.

Tourism and Recreation

For those who do not have their own boat or plane, transportation to the islands is provided by the charter industry. The crystal clear water in the immediate foreground made every coral branch clearly visible, the clustered corolla providing havens for parrots and other fish of the most dazzling hues, darting back and forth across the intervening spaces as the boat approached. ”. The charter vessels operating on the Abrolhos operate as fishing charter vessels or ecotourism charters for diving and snorkeling.

Between 2002 and 2009, Abrolhos charter operators averaged around 400 trips per year. Today, air transport to the Abrolhos is mostly commercial charter, usually from Geraldton and Kalbarri airports. Of this number, 23 percent opted for the scenic return flights of the three island groups on the same day.

These flights mainly land on East Wallabi Island to undertake land and sea tourism activities. The setting sun presented a very gloomy picture, and clouds of the most fantastic shape were scattered over the red western sky. The Abrolhos offer an almost pristine natural environment with a diverse range of marine and terrestrial fauna and flora, as well as a rich history including shipwrecks and the remains of early colonial industries such as guano mining and commercial fishing.

The wide range of activities available include sightseeing, fishing, wildlife watching, surfing, diving and snorkeling. Abrolhos is separated from the mainland by 60 km of ocean, but this isolation makes it a highly desirable tourist destination. As a result, the Abrolhos presents opportunities for land and sea tourism and recreational development for both overnight stays and day trips.

Any proposal for development of tourism or recreation for land or sea must preserve the ecological and cultural values ​​of the Abrolhos and, most importantly, minimize its footprint.


The North Island airstrip was originally built in 1980 by the Geraldton Fishermen's Co-operative and is still in use today. This airstrip has associated infrastructure, including a public jetty and two designated public toilets, built to accommodate visitors to the island. In 2003, the Department of Fisheries built the Saville-Kent facility on Rat Island to support operational and research capabilities from the Department and other agencies.

There are two government buildings on Beacon Island, which were previously used to support operational activities and naval archaeological work at various Batavia sites. Beacon Island is on the National Heritage List because of its connection to the Batavia shipwreck and should be managed accordingly. At the southern end of Pelsaert Island, a boardwalk was constructed to allow members of the public to visit an important seabird passage, reducing the potential for damage and/or disturbance to the site.

With funding from the National Heritage Trust, the Department of Fisheries has installed 23 public boat moorings to accommodate charter and private pleasure craft visiting the Abrolhos. These moorings are installed at safe anchorages, popular dive sites and reef observation areas to facilitate visits and access to the island groups and to limit damage to marine habitats by reducing the need to use anchors. The Ministry of Fisheries has installed a large number of dive markers, indicating different dive routes in Abrolhos.

Together with the Midwest Development Commission and the Northern Agricultural Catchment Board, the Department of Fisheries has worked to provide additional infrastructure in the form of walking trails, shaded areas and toilets within the Turtle Bay area of ​​Eastern Wallabi for use by day trip visitors. .

Further Reading

Western Australian Museum, 2011, Shipwreck Database, on their website at http://www.museum.wa.gov.au/maritime-archaeology-db/. and Wyrwoll, K.H., 1997, Geology of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands in Geology and Hydrogeology of the Carbonate Islands. Marine Flora and Fauna of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia Volume 1 Held at Beacon Island, Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia, May 1994. Sukumaran, A., 1997, Circulation and flushing characteristics of the Easter Group Lagoon, Houtman Abrolhos Islands, BSc (Hons) Thesis, Department of.

Campbell, R., 2005, Historical distribution and abundance of the Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) on the west coast of Western Australia, Department of Fisheries, Perth, Western Australia. Cooper, N.K.; Kako, R.A.; Desmond, A., 2006, Probable local extinction of the rat, Rattus fuscipes, on East Wallabi Island in the Houtman Abrolhos. Lek, E., 2004, Diet of three species of carnivorous fish in marine waters off the west coast of Australia.

Marsh, L.M., 1994, Echinoderms from the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia and their relationship to the Leeuwin Current. 2006, "Essential Demographic Statistics and Management of the Baldkin Footer (Choerodon rubescens) of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands" Marine and Freshwater Research. Surman C.A., Nicholson L.W., 2009, A survey of the breeding Seabirds and migratory shorebirds of the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia.

Wells, F.E., & Bryce, W.W., 1997, A preliminary checklist of the marine macromollusks of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Gray, H., 1999, The Western Rock Lobster Panulirus Cygnus Book 2: A History of the Fishery Westralian Books, Perth, Western Australia. Sumner, N., 2008, An assessment of finfish catches by recreational fishermen, tour operators, commercial lobster fishermen and commercial league fishermen from the Houtman Abrolhos Islands during 2006.

Webster, F.J, Debden, C.J., Weir, K.E., and Chubb, C.F., 2002, Towards an assessment of the impacts of natural and human use on the marine environment of the Abrolhos Islands Volume 1 Summary of existing information and current levels of human use Department of Fisheries Research Report No.


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