Oil industry and the environment collide in Western Port

Western Port watchers, tourism operators, environmentalists and the community are all celebrating the record number of whale sightings this year in Western Port. With sightings of more than 110 humpbacks, one southern right and four orcas in the region whale watching cruises even extended their cruise schedules.

Conservationists are also celebrating the recent Phillip Island Nature Parks quarterly birdcount that revealed record numbers of sightings and significant sightings of Double bandedplovers, Red necked stints, Caspian terns, Godwits, and Red-capped plovers at Observation Point.

Meanwhile the oil industry and the Port of Hastings are taking advantage of the protected pristine waters of Western Port to park an unwanted oil exploration rig the West Telesto just off the Phillip Island coast line near Observation Point for an undefined period of time.The oil rig is owned and operated by Origin Energy and when fully operational costs around $500,000 a day to operate. When parked in Western Port the Hastings Port operator Patrick has refused to disclose the amount of money being received.

This is currently sitting off Silverleaves in Cowes  - West Telesto - Noise, Water & Light pollution in a Protected Bird Migration area.

This is currently sitting off Silverleaves in Cowes  - West Telesto - Noise, Water & Light pollution in a Protected Bird Migration area.

Western Port supports international and domestic tourism, eco tourism, marine life, bird populations and the oil industry and Patrick just want to park unwanted oil exploration rigs inthe same place.

Jeff Nottle Chairman of the Preserve Western Port Action Group is calling on the State Government to initiate holistic master planning for Western Port. Currently Western Port has multiple land managers, authorities and community organisations as well as the oil industryand Port operators all seeking to achieve different visions for this RAMSAR protectedwaterway.

The oil industry and the environment are colliding and Western Port needs protection andmaster planning to secure and preserve this natural asset and the vast tourist economy itsupports from the oil industry and further industrialisation.

Media enquiries- Kate Whittaker 0409692425

Jeff Nottle


October 2015


Phone: 0456 612 852

P.O. Box 999 Cowes Vic 3922

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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

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