Young conservationist gains global recognition for South West Rocks

Published on 02 September 2021

Shalise Leesfield pictured with plastics found near the ocean

Dedicated action for conserving one of the ocean’s most critically endangered animals undertaken by a passionate 14-year-old has seen Fish Rock at South West Rocks nominated a Mission Blue Hope Spot.

Young ocean and shark conservationist, Shalise Leesfield, from Port Macquarie, has succeeded in nominating Fish Rock as a Hope Spot. Hope Spots are special places that are scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean.

Fish Rock is home to a unique ecosystem featuring a 125 metre underwater tunnel that supports a habitat for the critically endangered grey nurse shark as well as a number of other sea life species.

“Having Fish Rock nominated as a Hope Spot really promotes this incredible and unique area around the world,” said Ms Leesfield.

“I hope recognition as a Mission Blue Hot Spot will be a huge boost for the tourism industry and the local economy in South West Rocks.”

Kempsey Shire Mayor, Liz Campbell, was delighted to hear that the South West Rocks location had achieved such an honour.

“There are only a few prestigious locations that have been chosen as Hope Spots in Australia including The Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Coast and The Gold Coast so it’s great news for the Mid North Coast,” said Cr Campbell.

“I want to thank Shalise for all the inspiring work she has done, also Dr Sylvia Earle at Mission Blue for the honour and I’d also like to thank my friend and colleague Mayor Peta Pinson of Port Macquarie Hastings Council who supported Shalise.”

Fish Rock has long been a popular dive site and Ms Leesfield hopes the Hope Spot recognition will support the recovery of the docile but endangered grey nurse shark population in Australia. To find out more about Fish Rock, head to Macleay Valley Coast