Kalbarri Board Riders club pushes environmental concerns

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenMidwest Times
A Geraldton environmental consultant has released a report arguing Kalbarri is ill-suited to host a major surfing contest.
Camera IconA Geraldton environmental consultant has released a report arguing Kalbarri is ill-suited to host a major surfing contest. Credit: Francesca Mann

An environmental consultant’s report into the viability of a major international surfing contest being hosted at Jake’s Point has argued Kalbarri is ill-suited for such an event.

“Jake’s Point does not have the size to accommodate the footprint of the event and would require an upgrade,” the review, by Indre Asmussen of Geraldton Environmental Consultancy, stated.

“To cater for a large surf contest, significant investments would have to be made at Jake’s Point, other areas within the Kalbarri National Surfing Reserve, and the larger region to manage visitor impacts and protect the fragile, arid environment.”

Dr Asmussen said she carried out the work at no cost when she became aware of the club’s concerns.

Rumours of a World Surf League event being held in Kalbarri emerged earlier this year after Surfing Western Australia held talks with the Shire of Northampton and Kalbarri Board Riders club.

The talks came after doubt was cast on the future of the Margaret River Pro following two shark attacks in the area while the contest was being held in April.

Dr Asmussen said the event would result in a short-term spike in visitors to Kalbarri.

However, she said it was likely organisers would eventually lose interest in favour of a different wave, leaving the town with the burden of maintaining unnecessary infrastructure.

“That wave will have some value, but then it might become boring for people to see someone get tubed over and over again,” she told The Midwest Times.

“At Margaret River they’re left with a redeveloped surfer’s precinct, which was planned to accommodate the large contest, and now they have to maintain the site.”

VideoOrganizers of the Margaret River Pro have confirmed the famous surfing event will go ahead next year, but it will now be in May.

The survey stated that if the contest was to relocate to Jake’s Point, Kalbarri Board Riders would request a comprehensive environmental impact assessment, followed by an environmental impact management plan for the break and region.

“The logistics need to be worked out really well, but the environment needs to be factored into that as well,” Dr Asmussen said.

Kalbarri Board Riders president Kit Rayner said the club had not held talks with organisers or the Shire of Northampton since the initial meetings.

“I don't think it will go ahead myself, but that’s just my opinion,” he said. “I’m definitely hopeful it can be stopped.”

He said the club planned to circulate a petition globally, adding that they had already received “overwhelming support” from Board Riders clubs across Australia.

The Shire of Northampton declined to comment.

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