Over the first hundred years of Federation the sea has played a vital part in the growth of Western Australia. While helping to isolate the State, it has also acted as a major transport route. The sea has provided Western Australians with a source of recreation, but most importantly it has offered a bountiful variety of sea foods for local residents and for export markets around the world.
For many Australians the sea offers a sense of identity and of place - suburbs and cities are placed in relation to their nearest beaches. The sea has played an influential part in Western Australia’s development as a multi-cultural society, encouraging the development of a Mediterranean lifestyle very different to that of the first British colonists. It is also important to remember that the Indian Ocean and the Great Southern Ocean, give Western Australians a different perspective to those living on Australia’s eastern shore. Western Australia is not a Pacific Ocean nation.
The story of the sea told here relates the growth and development of a Western Australian fishing industry from a value of $668,000 in 1910 to $1,859,000,000 in 1997-98, providing the State with welcome
sources of income. The industries generated by Australia’s western oceans have given several generations of Western Australians employment in whaling, fishing, prawning, crayfishing and pearling.
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