Jurien Bay residents call for marina overhaul to avoid fish deaths and stench

Tired residents of Jurien Bay plan a rally and circulate a petition calling for an extension of the town’s marina.

Their upheaval comes from an annual accumulation of algae and seagrass in the marina which deprives the water of oxygen, kills fish and causes a rotten smell that permeates the township.

Residents say they have begged the Department of Transportation for decades to change the shape of the marina to prevent the build-up of algae and seagrass.

But the lack of action prompted the public’s renewed plea for help.

Call for help

Sarah Wilson, mother of three from Jurien Bay, has collected more than 1,000 names on a petition calling for action.

She also started a Facebook group where other residents have scheduled a rally in the city tomorrow.

“You can’t even come close to it. It’s the only safe place kids can swim and it’s disgusting.”

A health warning sign in Jurien Marina, September 2021
A sign in Jurien Marina warns passers-by of the risk of toxic water.(

Provided: Sarah Wilson

)

Ian Stiles, longtime Jurien Bay resident, agreed.

He said the problem had been happening every winter for decades.

“When the first two fish killed happened, there were fish big enough like stingrays, there were also blue manna crabs – pretty much everything was dead,” Mr. Stiles said.

He said marine life would grow slowly each year, only to die off again over the following winter when the problem recurred.

Mr Stiles recalled diving in the marina 20 years ago after a poisonous water incident to find thousands of dead eels and crabs littering the ocean floor.

“But because he’s out of sight, out of mind, he doesn’t seem to get any attention.”

A close up of dead fish and algae on Jurien Marina beach.
Dead fish washed up on the beach at Jurien marina.(

Provided: Penelope Normington

)

Funding required

Department of Transportation’s marine executive director Steve Jenkins acknowledged the problem and said the department had studied wind, wave and water movements to model a solution.

Mr Jenkins said an addition to the marina would prevent the build-up of seagrass.

“There’s been a lot of work done over the last four to five years to identify the root cause and we’ve done a design that’s a little extension, or a point, that comes off the north breakwater and we think that will dramatically improve the water quality if we built it, ”he said.

But Mr Jenkins said the ministry has yet to find funding to build such an extension.

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