Urgent Meeting with Environment Minister sought - Renewal of the Western Port Ramsar Site Management Plan

The Western Port Ramsar Management Plan was produced in 2003,

with a great deal of input from local conservation groups, especially

WPPC (Westernport & Peninsula Protection Council),PICS (Phillip

Island Conservation Society), Bird Observers Club and VWSG

(Victorian Wader Study Group) Inexplicably however these groups 

were not informed of the current review of the Managment Plan.


WPPC and PICS have been actively campaigning to protect and

preserve Westernport since 1970.  In the 1980’s we lobbied successfully for 

Westernport bay to be listed as a Ramsar site. We

made detailed input to the Western Port Ramsar Management Plan

between 2001-03. We are astounded that we were not informed of a 

review of the Management Plan that has been taking place this year.

We belatedly and only informally heard about the review one week 

before the final consultation was to take place and after contacting

the convener, were invited to participate. However, our participation

was too late to make any meaningful input to the priorities

established at previous meetings.


We, the undersigned, are very concerned that the Draft plan

release in January will not address the most serious risks to the bay.

We request an urgent meeting with you to explain our concerns

about the Management Plan Review



We also urge you to delay publication of the Draft to allow adequate

consultation with these community stakeholders.

Bird Life of Westernport

Situated just over an hour’s drive south-east of Melbourne, Western Port supports so many species of waterbirds and migratory shorebirds it has been listed as a Ramsar-listed site of international importance. Western Port’s waterbirds have been counted regularly since 1973 as part of the BOCA Western Port Survey, and that tradition continues in our Waterbirds in Western Port project. It is one of the longest-running surveys in our project portfolio.

Focusing on the sheltered sections of Western Port where there are extensive mudflats (including French Island and the north-eastern shores of Phillip Island), the survey gathers data on the various waterbirds that occur in the bay — shorebirds (waders), ducks, swans, grebes, herons, egrets, ibis and spoonbills.

Results from the project have confirmed just how vital Western Port is for waterbirds. Some of the findings include:

  • Western Port is especially important for species that favour mangrove-lined coasts, including larger shorebirds
  • Numbers of waterbirds in the bay are not static, fluctuating seasonally and between years
  • Inland-breeding waterbirds (such as the Grey Teal) leave Western Port when inland areas experience good rains, but then return in large numbers after they have bred
  • Numbers of a few species are generally increasing (e.g. Australian Pied Oystercatcher and Bar-tailed Godwit), but more have declined (e.g. various cormorants, Grey-tailed Tattler, Eastern Curlew and Curlew Sandpiper). Declines in some of the migratory species probably reflect a loss of habitat elsewhere along their migration route.

Get Involved

Since 1973, many volunteers have been introduced to waterbirds and the art of counting them through the Waterbirds in Western Port project. Are you interested in being one of them? If so contact andrew.silcocks@birdlife.org.au

Here is a link for teachers of Environmental Studies to a study kit on Westernport.

Please visit Birdlife Australia for more information at Birdlife Australia

Photo by Lisa Schoenberg

Photo by Lisa Schoenberg

Hastings Port Threat taken to Switzerland

A Westernport community group representative has headed to Switzerland today to present the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, the body in charge of international wetland treaties, with a letter outlining the imminent threat posed by the massive Port of Hastings development to the bay's extensive wetlands.  

To Read the document scroll to below the photo.

Karri Giles President -  Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council.  - presenting joint letter to Ramsar Officials in Switzerland.  

Karri Giles President - Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council. - presenting joint letter to Ramsar Officials in Switzerland.