Obtaining permission to land on Ashmore Reef

Subject: Obtaining permission to land on Ashmore Reef
From: (Tony Palliser)
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 1996 20:08:52 +1000
Landing on West Island, Ashmore Reef, NT 
Our recent visit to Ashmore Reef NW Australia in October 1996  
allowed us first hand to see how inadequate our government departments  
can be when it comes to setting up a set of rules that suit both the  wildlife 
and the visitor.   West Island is a small island covered in  low vegetation 
that is less sensitive than other Islands of the Ashmore  Reef Group in 
that there is no large nesting colony of birds on it.   However ANCA  
(Australian Nature Conservation Agency) have decided to try and get 
some revenue out of this  by charging outrageous landing fees for 
anyone that tries to organise  a charter to the area.  Here are some of 
the facts that were pointed  out to us by the officials located at Ashmore 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
The general public, visiting yachts and Indonesian fishermen can land  
on West Island at will providing they let the officials know of their  
intentions, swimming and snorkelling is permitted and there is no 

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Charter Vessels cannot land or visit any part of the reef without a 
valid permit obtainable from Broome at a cost of $2000.00. Permits  
cannot be obtained or purchased from the on site warden. They can  
only be obtained from 9.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday in Broome  
and must be prepaid.. Snorkelling is  not allowed, however 
swimming is permitted.  

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  
No one except scientific personnel are allowed to visit other Islands  
in the chain, which is reasonable given the sensitive nature of the 
Terns and Boobies that nest there.   
To me it is clear that little or no thought has gone into this set of rules.  
There is now a situation in WA where charter vessels will not  take 
any notice of ANCA preferring to either land illegally or not go at all 
rather than pay the fee.   ANCA now have a bad name  right
through the charter community and the word is spreading.   Ashmore 
reef is extremely remote and one would not  expect any more than a 
few charter vessels in  any one year.   I get very  concerned when we 
get departments like this looking after sensitive  nature reserves 
Australia wide when this is the sort of thing they  come up with. 
Apparently they didn't even have the decency to consult  the local 
charter industry, it would appear that they are more interested  in 
revenue than caring for our wildlife? 
Does anyone have any other examples of difficulties with ANCA, 
because I intend to write to the local MP and complain and would like 
to have as much information to hand as possible.  I would be interested 
to hear what others think on this issue.  Do you think that the $2000 fee is
reasonable? Am I going off the deep end?  Do I have all the facts 

Tony Palliser  (Sydney, Australia)       
Phone   +61 2 9900 1678 or +61 2 94277563   
Fax     +61 2 9900 1669 
Email       or   

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