WAMSI welcomes new Chair

Peter Millington B.Sc.(Hons); M.Env.St.; M.Sc; FAICD

Before taking up the appointment as WAMSI Chair Peter was Chief Executive Officer, ChemCentre, Western Australia’s main chemistry centre.

He was responsible for the State’s chemical research across six areas: forensics, environmental health, emergencies and crises, food and agriculture, bioanalyses and occupational health. He was also responsible for collaborative and contract research services.

Prior to that Peter was the Acting Chief Executive Officer at the Department of Fisheries where between 1988 and 2008 he instituted a series of reforms to take WA’s fisheries into the future. He introduced new management arrangements for most of the commercial fisheries, implemented a framework for recreational fishing and increased the focus on habitat protection in the estuarine and marine environments.

He was also involved in policy development, monitoring and management of Commonwealth fisheries, and foreign fisheries operating in the Australian Fishing Zone and also convened two international conferences and Chaired many national committees.

Peter obtained a biological science degree at Flinders University and pursued his marine interests by undertaking an Honours degree in marine science at James Cook University. He obtained a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies at Adelaide University before obtaining an overseas study scholarship to undertake a Masters Degree in Marine Science at the University of British Columbia, specialising in fish population dynamics. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Farewell from the Chair

After almost five years as Chair of the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI), having helped to guide the joint venture partnership Board through the Kimberley and Dredging Science Node projects and the Blueprint for Marine Science Initiative, I’m stepping down as Chair.      

I’m exceptionally proud to have been here during the Kimberley Marine Research Progam (KMRP) and the Dredging Science Node (DSN), to have been a part of the fabulous science that has been done and was shown at the 2017 WAMSI Research conference.

I’d like to pay tribute to Patrick Seares, who was CEO during the bulk of this time, for his strategic thinking, huge energy and enthusiasm and I know that the current CEO Dr Luke Twomey will use his considerable skills in guiding WAMSI well into the future.

It’s been a pleasure working with all the WAMSI partners. I greatly respected their ideas and considerable support for the notion and realisation of the marine science collaboration that is WAMSI.

A huge thanks also to the staff of WAMSI, who are the real backbone to facilitating the smooth running of this Institution. I give particular acknowledgement to Linda McGowan who has managed the WAMSI finances and contracts for many years. Her commitment to detail is invaluable.

I’d like to express my admiration to all of the scientists involved in the dredging and Kimberley science nodes and in particular the Node Leadership teams: Ray Masini, Ross Jones, Kevin Crane and Kevin McAlpine (DSN); and Stuart Field and Kelly Waples (KMRP).

As WAMSI moves forward, I’m leaving the Institution in very good hands with Peter Millington, who  is taking over as Chair from the first of January 2018.

As a long-standing WAMSI Board member and CEO of Chemcentre and previously Acting Chief Executive Officer of Fisheries, Peter is well known to most in the Western Australian marine science field.

I wish Peter and everyone else involved in WAMSI a long and successful future.

Naomi Brown


Science priorities for estuary management in SW Western Australia

A report presenting a prioritisation of the science and monitoring needs for southwest estuary management has been released by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI).

The Research and information priorities for estuary management in southwest Western Australia is the result of extensive consultation with estuary managers and researchers by the WAMSI Estuaries Science Steering Group.



The report identifies priorities under 11 key themes:

  1. Water quality
  2. Key habitats
  3. Biodiversity management
  4. The effects of catchment land use
  5. Coastal engineering and port development
  6. Sediment quality
  7. Human health
  8. Freshwater and hydrology
  9. Sustaining resources
  10. Socio-economic aspects
  11. Integrated system modelling

For each of these themes, research priorities and priorities that can be met with better use of current knowledge have been identified both for estuaries management as a whole and more specifically, for each of the seven southwest estuary systems.

“The purpose of this body of work is to assist researchers to focus on high impact studies, and to help plan a more strategic and collaborative approach to developing information for future management through independent peer reviewed science,” WAMSI General Manager Luke Twomey said.  

Executive Director of Environmental Protection Authority, Strategy and Guidance, from Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Patrick Seares said the priorities should help guide the science activities that will be required to support effective policy initiatives such as the Regional Estuaries Initiative, Green Growth Plan for Perth-Peel and the Swan-Canning River Protection Strategy.

“Estuaries are a vital part of our landscape both socially and economically,” Mr Seares said. “As a community, we receive a wide range of benefits from estuaries – liveability of cities and towns, recreational opportunities, sacred sites, ports and harbours, bird sanctuaries, food resources, flood mitigation, and rich biological ecosystems. However, numerous pressures, associated primarily with catchment development and exacerbated by climate change, have resulted in impaired ecosystem health in several popular estuary systems.”

Principal Scientist, Rivers and Estuaries Division, at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Dr Kerry Trayler said the priorities reflected the need to respond to the increasing pressure on estuaries from Western Australia’s growing population.

“The challenge facing managers and scientists is to enable further population growth and associated economic activity in these popular areas of the State while maintaining, and in some cases revitalising, healthy estuaries as expected by communities,” Dr Trayler said. “This Report establishes the groundwork needed to consider the implications for management as we move forward.”


Thomson C, Kilminster K, Hallett C, Valesini F, Hipsey M, Trayler K, Gaughan D, Summers R, Syme G, Seares P (2017) Research and information priorities for estuary management in southwest Western Australia. Report prepared for the Western Australian Marine Science Institution, Perth, Western Australia, 87 pp.

WAMSI Estuaries project page: www.wamsi.org.au/estuary-science

Peel-Harvey Estuary



Estuary Science

Kimberley moves on integrating Traditional Knowledge and science

A three-year project that has broken down barriers to communication between Traditional Owners and scientists working on Country in the Kimberley was recognised as a significant step forward by members of the working group at the 2017 WAMSI Research Conference.

The Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project (KISSP) worked with Rangers from seven Kimberley Indigenous Native Title Saltwater groups as well as 103 Traditional Owners to develop protocols and guidelines that recognise how Traditional Knowledge can engage with and complement modern research and science.

The KISSP project made significant progress into delivering three key objectives:

  1. Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and management practices into Kimberley marine conservation management.
  2. Developing standard and agreed community protocols.
  3. Developing a framework and protocols for standardising data collection, storage and monitoring, including the development of a pilot training package.

“If you think about CSIRO, AIMS and the Parks and Wildlife Service, there is a lot of marine research being undertaken in the Kimberley, and Traditional Owners just want to be respected and have some idea about it, know who is on their Country and what involvement the community will have in the research,” Project Leader Dean Mathews (Yawuru) explained.

Charles Darwin University and CSIRO researcher and working group member Beau Austin said there were a lot of practical, implied benefits from getting the collaboration between western scientists and Traditional Owners to work.

“For example, Indigenous Knowledge holders can see changes, threats and connections between things that scientists might not see and this can contribute to informing policy and decision making that can lead to better decisions, better policy and better management,” Dr Austin said.

Albert Wiggan, representing the Nyul Nyul people from the Dampier Peninsular north of Broome, described the two-year journey with the project as an, “opportunity to discover the potential and productive tools that can come from a relationship between science and Traditional Knowledge.”

Albert Wiggan, Deputy Project leader presenting the KISSP program out comes at the 2017 WAMSI Research Conference. Albert is a traditional Bardi, Nyul Nyul, and Kija man from the Kimberley who has been working as a Nyul Nyul Ranger for the last five years.

“It is important that we, as Indigenous people who are still connected with our land, develop the skills and capacity to work alongside science, so that we best look after the environment not just for ourselves but for everybody into the future,” Mr Wiggan said.

A six step approach to entering into collaborative research has been developed by Gina Lincoln from Mosaic Environmental Consultancy as part of the project outcomes. It addresses current shortfalls and provides consistency for researchers embarking on Kimberley coastal and marine research projects.

Six step approach to entering into collaborative research developed by Gina Lincoln from Mosaic Environmental Consultancy

“The key around this is the products that are coming out of the project and how they get taken up or implemented into management, especially around joint management with Traditional Owners in the Kimberley,” Mr Mathews said. “We also want to build capacity within the groups so, when a researcher leaves their research, they leave a legacy of their work, such as tools or methodologies so groups can continue monitoring the change in their Country over time.”

“At the end of the day we are working towards a common objective,” Mr Mathews said. “There’s policy and legislation, but if you look at our goal it’s about protecting and managing Country. We believe the group has developed strong momentum and that it is a model that will work.”

(L-R) WAMSI Kimberley Marine Research Program Node Leader Stuart Field (DBCA), KISSP Project Leader Dean Matthews (Senior Project leader Yawuru for the last 5 years working closely with the state in developing the Yawuru conservation estate plans and the Yawuru Marine Park Plan), Manager Land and Sea Unit at Nyamba Buru Yawuru Julie Melbourne, Rebecca Dobbs (UWA), Beau Austin (CDU/CSIRO) and WAMSI Kimberley Science coordinator Kelly Waples (DBCA).


KISSP Project page: www.wamsi.org.au/Indigenous-knowledge

The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.


Kimberley Marine Research Program