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Project 4.7: Marine invasive species literature review

A report has been published for Project 4.7 on WAMSI’s website. In this article, the Westport team provides a summary of this report, its key findings, and what it means for Westport.

09 July 2024

Westport has partnered with the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) to deliver the $13.5 million WAMSI-Westport Marine Science Program. This 3-year program is developing the latest data, information and modelling on the complex environmental systems and community values associated with Cockburn Sound.


Project 4.7: Marine invasive species literature review


Research Theme: Fisheries and aquatic resources

Researchers: Dr Fred E Wells, Curtin University

Publication Date: July 2024


Understanding marine invasive species

The introduction of invasive marine species into marine areas is a global issue, often resulting from shipping activities with the species catching a ride on vessels between ports.

Inspection and quarantine procedures are in place across Australia’s port network to reduce the chances of new species being introduced. Many invasive species are relatively harmless, but some can cause damage through displacing native species and changing the ecology of the system.

With the proposed development of new port facilities in the Kwinana Industrial Area, this study reviewed the literature on current marine invasive species in Western Australia to identify the potential risks to Cockburn Sound.

The literature review considered the knowledge of invasive marine species in other ports across WA, including Fremantle, and reviewed options to reduce risks. 70 introduced species were recorded that may have established populations, 29 of which have been found in Cockburn Sound and/or Owen Anchorage. 4 of these species are considered noxious in Cockburn Sound and/or Owen Anchorage.

The study determined that the risk of introducing marine pest species will be greatest during construction, but is manageable with the implementation of standard control measures and procedures.


What the report found: 

  • There are around 80 species listed as being of potential concern for Australian waters
  • Invasive marine species tend to be more of an issue in temperate rather than tropical waters
  • The Fremantle marine region, including Cottesloe to Cockburn Sound and the Swan River, had the greatest number of introduced marine species in WA, with 46 of the 60 reported species reported in the area.


How Westport will use this report:

This report will be used to increase understanding and awareness of the potential risks of invasive marine species into Cockburn Sound from port traffic, and identification of the different species. It will also help inform risk management tactics, such as vessel inspections, quarantine and cleaning procedures already undertaken by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), and the consideration of how to increase biological diversity around the new port infrastructure, to reduce the risk of invasive species in Cockburn Sound and Owen Anchorage.


You can read the full report here.

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