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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Management and conservation

​The Houtman Abrolhos Islands and surrounding waters are home to many different creatures, including:

  • coral reefs
  • lobsters
  • fish
  • birds

We manage the Islands under detailed strategic and management plans.

In 2020, the State Government released the Houtman Abrolhos Islands Strategic Direction 2020-2024.

We are working with relevant agencies and stakeholders to design a new future for the Abrolhos Islands that aligns with State Government's vision for the Islands. We are currently developing new draft strategic and management plans for the Class A Reserve and surrounding waters within the Abrolhos Islands FHPA. These draft plans will be released for public comment in the second half of 2021, and are expected to be finalised by the end of 2021.

Abrolhos waters are among the most pristine in Australia.  Warmed by the Leeuwin current, Abrolhos waters have more nutrients than coastal waters near the mainland. This makes the world under the water a veritable aquarium of marine life.

In cooperation with the Department of Health, we monitor water quality at the Abrolhos to ensure that any potential pollutants are identified before they can impact on the marine environment and fisheries.

You’ll find some of the southernmost coral reefs in the world at the Abrolhos. Even the islands themselves are built on ancient coral reefs.  Coral reef research at the Islands started with William Saville Kent in 1897 and continues today.  We work closely with a number of organisations on this research, including:

  • State Natural Resource Management (NRM) Program
  • CSIRO
  • Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
  • The University of Western Australia
  • Some of the current Abrolhos coral research includes:
  • Remote sensing mapping of coral habitats.

There is also research into western rock lobsters. At Rat Island puerulus (transparent baby rock lobsters) that settle on artificial “collectors” are counted.  They provide a good indication of what the adult lobster population is likely to be in three to four years’ time.

Finfish at the Abrolhos include species from tropical and temperate waters, with tropical coral trout swimming in the same waters as temperate pink snapper.

They have been plentiful since the Islands were first surveyed in 1840, but this is through careful management.  Remember to fish for the future and always fish by the rules.

The Abrolhos is one of the most significant seabird nesting areas in the eastern Indian Ocean.  More than two million birds breed on the rocks and islands of the Abrolhos.

 Many different bird species call the Abrolhos home.  The Abrolhos Painted Button Quail is only found here, while the Australian Lesser Noddy breeds nowhere else in Australia.  Most Abrolhos birds are protected by international agreements between Australia, China, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

Read more about the seabirds of the Abrolhos Islands.

Last modified: 21/07/2021 9:47 AM

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The information and advice provided by the Department of Fisheries website is made in good faith and is from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of release onto the website. Changes in circumstances after a document is placed on the website may affect the accuracy of the information. Full disclaimer details are available at www.fish.wa.gov.au.