Mermaid Reef, the most north-easterly of the three reefs of the Rowley Shoals is known for its spectacular diving and approachable fish, such as enormous potato cod.
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Unlike the other two reefs at Rowley Shoals, Clerke and Imperieuse, which comprise the Rowley Shoals Marine Park, Mermaid Reef is a separate Commonwealth Marine Reserve. This is because Clerke and Imperieuse reefs both have permanent land above the high water mark (Bedwell Island at Clerke Reef and Cunningham Island on Imperieuse Reef) so are surrounded by State waters (Western Australia) and are therefore a WA Marine Park.
There is no permanent land at Mermaid Reef, but a large sand bank near the northern end and a series of small sand banks along the west side of the lagoon become exposed during low tide only. Thus with no permanent land above high water mark, Mermaid Reef falls into Australian Territorial Waters and is a Commonwealth Marine Reserve managed by the Commonwealth Department the Environment. You can find out more at the Commonwealth Department of Environment website.
Because of their remote location, most visitors travel to the Rowley Shoals Marine Park and Mermaid Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve by charter boat, and trips are generally a minimum of five days. The boat trip to the Rowley Shoals takes approximately 12 hours or longer depending on vessel speed and ocean conditions. Charter operators usually leave Broome at sunset and arrive at the shoals the following day.
Bookings are required to use the public moorings at Mermaid Reef.
You may not fish at Mermaid Reef Commonwealth Marine Reserve.