Recognising Roebuck Bay was without management plans to protect its high values into the future, the Roebuck Bay Working Group (RBWG) formed in 2004, to develop community driven planning to protect, restore and maintain the catchment into the future. The RBWG, a community group of 34 members, won a State Coastal Award in 2007, a WA Regional Achievement and Community Award in 2013 and a State Coastcare Award in 2019.
RBWG has a strong emphasis on partnerships, working with landholders, community, researchers, conservation, industry and government to contribute to planning and on ground change to protect, restore and maintain Roebuck Bay.
Declared a Ramsar site in 1990 and a National Heritage site in 2011, Roebuck Bay is of international importance for at least 20 species of migratory shorebirds and as a site in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Roebuck Bay is a tropical marine embayment with highly biologically diverse intertidal mudflats. Dugongs, Green turtles and rare Australian snubfin dolphins regularly feed on the extensive seagrass meadows. Roebuck Bay is a major nursery for marine fishes and crustaceans and supports an exceptionally high diversity of benthic invertebrates (est. between 300 – 500 species), placing it amongst the most diverse mudflats in the world.
Honoured with a State Coastal Award in 2007, a State Regional Achievement and Community Award in 2013 and a State and Territory Coastcare Award in 2019. RBWG’s success is based on a commitment to work collaboratively and passionately to raise awareness and encourage research and monitoring, to support responsible management and protection of Roebuck Bay’s natural and cultural values and status as an Ramsar wetland of international significance, a National Heritage listing and Yawuru Nagulagun Roebuck Bay Marine Park. A recent initiative to raise awareness of Roebuck Bay’s high natural and cultural values, is the popular Mud and Saltwater Short Film Fest.
Yawuru people have been members of the RBWG since its inception. The signing of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement between Yawuru native title holders and the State in 2010, resulted in a Yawuru Birragun Yawuru Conservation Estate and a Yawuru Nagulagun Roebuck Bay Marine Park (Oct 2016). The ten year marine park management plan covers 78,840ha from Gantheaume Point to Cape Villaret. The Yawuru Nagulagun Roebuck Bay Marine Park is jointly managed by Nyamba Buru Yawuru and the Department of Conservation, Biodiversity and Attractions, providing a boost for conservation, tourism and jobs for Yawuru people to manage their sea country. The Class A Marine Reserve has seven management programs with prioritised strategies.
The Yawuru Birragun Conservation Park covers 19,120ha of land outside the Broome townsite and includes parts of the Roebuck Bay Ramsar site and National Heritage area. The conservation park will be jointly managed for the purpose of conservation, recreation, and traditional and customary Aboriginal use, by Parks and Wildlife and Yawuru Native Title Body Corporate.
Bounded to the north-west by Broome township and Sandy Point to the south, Roebuck Bay is intrinsic to the recreational life of residents and visitors as a favourite place to go fishing, bird watching and to draw inspiration for music, art, photography and literature.
Broome Port of Pearls, located in Roebuck Bay was built in 1965, with an extension of 148 metres added onto the existing structure in 2006. Broome Port’s early trade was based on pearl shelling which has evolved into a world renowned pearl aquaculture industry. Subsequent trade includes fuel imports for the growing region, livestock export, cruise ship tourism, commercial fishing and more recently, the oil and gas industry.
Roebuck Bay Working Group is comprised of Traditional Owners and government, local community, conservation groups and business. We work collaboratively to solve issues, raise awareness and encourage research and monitoring which supports responsible management and protection of Roebuck Bay.