The passing of Barry Wilson


It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of world-renowned zoologist and biogeographer Dr Barry Wilson, the architect of Western Australia’s marine conservation system which today protects locally, nationally and internationally significant marine environments, and guarantees access for all people to enjoy and experience these unparalleled natural attractions.

Barry’s 46-year career encompassed many roles from specialising in the biology and distribution of marine molluscs and Curator of Molluscs at the WA Museum to Director of Nature Conservation with the Department of Conservation and Land Management, a Director at Australian Wildlife Conservancy and Chairman of the WA Marine Parks and Reserves Authority. He was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for service to the community in marine science in 2003.

Barry’s unending commitment and passion for conserving the environment was pivotal in building the foundation for the State’s marine parks and reserves system and is reflected in the way we as an agency manage our natural values today and in the future.

His leadership as Director of Nature Conservation from 1985-1991 oversaw the ground-breaking work achieved by the agency in native fauna conservation. He was the driving force behind the establishment of the State’s first marine parks at Marmion and Ningaloo.

After leaving CALM, Barry Chaired the Marine Parks and Reserves Selection Working Group and oversaw the preparation of A Representative Marine Reserve System for Western Australia (often referred to as the Wilson Report), on behalf of the then Minister for the Environment. The “Wilson Report” was published by CALM in June 1994.

The report was the result of seven years’ work in which Barry and fellow scientists prepared a blueprint for WA’s marine reserve system across the State’s 13,500 km coastline from the Kimberley to Eucla, and was one of the most significant marine conservation documents released anywhere in Australia and probably the world.

Barry was a pioneer in conservation management and many of us have been extremely fortunate to have worked with and known him.

On behalf of us all at Parks and Wildlife I have passed on our deepest sympathies and condolences to Barry’s family.

Jim Sharp

Director General

Department of Parks and Wildlife