Open minds on Wilson Inlet

WITH long-running debate continuing to simmer over whether and where Wilson Inlet should open annually to the sea, a dozen Denmarkians have heard an overall vision is required to get the shire on the front foot.

On March 21, bird lover Jesz Fleming arranged a meeting of commercial fishers, Shire council staff and elected officials, ratepayer and business representatives and a potential aquaculture operator at the Shire of Denmark officers.

Wilson Inlet
Professor Imberger and Mr Fleming with the inlet just visible in the background. Photo: Chris Thomson

“It was the first meeting to bring together all these disparate groups to discuss Wilson Inlet to see what we have in common, where the differences might be and how to move forward to give a holistic approach to improving the ecology of the inlet,” Mr Fleming told The Voice of the South.

“It was the least heated meeting ever experienced in Denmark regarding Wilson Inlet where various factions were present.

 “I think the next step is that, having listened to everything, we just need to pull people together to see if we can make other things happen so that some of the demands of some people are put to one side to move the whole thing forward.”

Also at the gathering was Professor of Environmental Engineering Jorg Imberger who had travelled from Perth to participate. 

“[At the meeting, I encountered] very strong, independent-minded people, unfortunately a little bit caught up on [whether a] west [or] east [inlet] opening [should occur], fish, birds, whatever, and not a coherent picture, and that makes you weak as soon as a politician or big company moves in,” Professor Imberger said.

“So, I was encouraging very strongly to not push west or east, but rather push a sustainable vision for the whole place.

“Think about it, Silicon Valley is known for electronics.

“Go for half an hour’s walk in King’s Park or anywhere in Western Australia and count the number of endemic species you see.”

Professor Imberger said in Europe you would have to walk from London to Moscow to see that number.

“This area, with the biodiversity that nature gave us is unique in the world – Denmark could be the centre of a whole new way of living sustainably, but I guess we’ll all need to get our act together,” he said.

“The most important thing I’ve learned in my life is that local people need to stand up for what they want, and if they have a good focus, it’s harder to unravel that than if they’re all fighting each other.

“There are very few places left in the world that have this opportunity, and Denmark’s one.”

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