Save our little penguins – build new Penguin Centre on the mainland, not Penguin Island

Save our little penguins – build new Penguin Centre on the mainland, not Penguin Island

6 March 2022
Petition to
Mark McGowan (Member for Rockingham and WA Premier) and 4 others
Signatures: 3,902Next goal: 5,000
Support now

Why this petition matters

Started by Dawn Jecks

A few weeks ago, WA environment minister Reece Whitby announced in the local media that a new Penguin Discovery Centre would be built on Penguin Island just off the coast of Rockingham, near Perth.

The announcement came out of the blue for our concerned community of little penguin lovers who are worried the new centre could be the nail in the coffin for this already devastated colony.

The plan to construct the centre on the island has not been undertaken with the advice of scientists or other stakeholders external to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), which manages the island.

The numbers of little penguins on Penguin Island are estimated to have declined by 80% between 2007 and 2019 and there are thought to be just 200-300 left in the colony.

While the climate crisis is a factor in the decline of little penguins on Penguin Island, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests tourism is having a major impact. Reduced breeding success appears to be linked to human disturbances according to preliminary data from Penguin Island. 

Building a new discovery centre on the island will attract more people, increasing the risk for human disturbances to occur. These impacts may get worse with increased tourism and we’ve seen few concrete plans from DBCA on how this will be managed. 

Time is of the essence. We understand the proposed construction will begin in just six months and continue until April 2023. This will overlap substantially with a large part of the breeding season over on Penguin Island. We need to stop this plan in its tracks!

That construction period would risk nesting locations and beach arrival points. We know that little penguins can be very sensitive to disturbances so we would have real concerns about how this might impact the dwindling colony, even if construction was only carried out in the middle portion of the day when adult penguins are out at sea. With their numbers so low, every single breeding success will count and we need to nurture that and manage the risk. 

The best solution for the penguins and for the community is to build the Penguin Discovery centre on the mainland, featuring rescued penguins among a broader suite of experiences. The island is better suited to a smaller research and rehabilitation facility.

Locating the Discovery Centre on the mainland is the solution that has the backing of scientists, the backing of the main tourism operator, and the backing of the local community here in Rockingham. 

A state-of-the-art discovery centre on the mainland would be a wonderful tourism attraction for our City and would, alongside the other conservation solutions currently being formulated, give the penguin colony on the island some much needed breathing space.

Sign our petition and tell Minister Whitby, as well as local state member Premier Mark McGowan and federal member for Brand Madeleine King, that for the sake of our little penguins, the new Penguin Discovery Centre must be located on the mainland

Support now
Signatures: 3,902Next goal: 5,000
Support now

Decision makers

  • Mark McGowanMember for Rockingham and WA Premier
  • Reece WhitbyWA Minister for Environment
  • Madeleine KingMember for Brand
  • Roger CookWA Minister for Tourism
  • Mark WebbDirector General Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attraction