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:

Peel-Harvey Estuary



Estuary Science