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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Management information

The Houtman Abrolhos Islands were originally declared a Class A Reserve in 1929 in recognition of its important recreation and tourism values.

Reef Observation Areas were created in 1994, and the State waters surrounding the islands were gazetted as a Fish Habitat Protection Area (FHPA) in 1999. The FHPA is managed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in accordance with the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 for the:

  • conservation and protection of fish, fish breeding areas, fish fossils or the aquatic eco-system;
  • culture and propagation of fish and experimental purposes related to that culture and propagation; or
  • management of fish and activities relating to the appreciation or observation of fish.

In October 2017, the State Government made a commitment to develop a new whole-of-government approach to better protect the Abrolhos, and in July 2019 the Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park (the National Park) was created. The National Park is managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) under the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984 and the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. The National Park, which makes up approximately 97% of the total land area to the high-water mark, includes most of the islands or parts of islands that are not leased to commercial rock lobster and aquaculture operators.

The remaining occupied islands or parts of islands are located within a Class A Reserve, which is managed by DPIRD on behalf of the Minister for Fisheries for the purpose of conservation of flora and fauna, tourism, and purposes associated with the fishing and aquaculture industries. Most of the Abrolhos Reserve is leased to the owners of ‘camps’ who are operating pursuant to commercial rock lobster and aquaculture licences in waters surrounding the Abrolhos Islands. The Abrolhos Reserve is managed in accordance with the Land Administration Act 1997, the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 and the lease agreements.

In 2020, the State Government released the Houtman Abrolhos Islands Strategic Direction 2020-24, which shares the State Government’s vision and key initiatives for the Abrolhos and supports the implementation of contemporary management and governance arrangements to enable effective management and use of the land and water.

Following extensive consultation processes during 2021 and 2022, the State Government has finalised new management plans for the National Park​ (prepared by DBCA), and the Abrolhos Reserve and FHPA (prepared by DPIRD). The management plans can be downloaded from our publications page​.

There are multiple other agencies which have applicable legislation and deliver important services that support management of the Abrolhos including the WA Museum, Tourism WA, the Department of Transport, the Department of Health and the City of Greater Geraldton.

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Last modified: 3/11/2022 11:48 AM

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