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WAMSI Project Status

Learn more about status of projects that comprise the WAMSI Westport Marine Science Program

WAMSI Westport Marine Science Program - Project Status 

All WAMSI Westport Marine Science Program reports are being published following a rigorous peer review process. Remaining reports are on-track to be completed by the end of 2024 and made publicly available by early 2025.

 

Theme

Project

Research Lead(s)

Status

Influence of research on Westport

Theme 1 - Ecosystem modelling and integration

1.1 Integrated Ecosystem Modelling platform

Matt Hipsey, The University of Western Australia

Under review.

Integrating broad program deliverables into a shared ecosystem modelling platform to support project assessment and long-term ecosystem management within Cockburn Sound.

Theme 1 - Ecosystem modelling and integration

1.2 Pathways to productivity: Development of a water quality response model for Cockburn Sound

Matt Hipsey, The University of Western Australia

Project underway. Modelling platform has been established and is being validated, with data from other themes being added as available.

A state-of-the-art model of Cockburn Sound that integrates complex physical, chemical, and biological dynamics, over a range of time and spatial scales, to address environmental assessment requirements.

Theme 1 - Ecosystem modelling and integration

1.3 Using conceptual, qualitative, and quantitative ecosystem models to characterise the trophic structure, ecosystem attributes and functioning of Cockburn Sound

Hector Lozano-Montes, Murdoch University

Neil Loneragan, Murdoch University

Report published. 

A series of conceptual, qualitative and quantitative Cockburn Sound ecosystem models to explore solutions for current and future risks, and understand ecological flow-on effects from development.

Theme 2 - Benthic habitats and communities

2.1 Benthic habitat mapping

Renae Hovey, The University of Western Australia

Kieryn Kilminster, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation

Project underway. Preliminary benthic habitat mapping undertaken and provided to support referral. Further ground truthing and analysis underway.

 

Increasing our understanding of the presence and distribution of benthic habitats in the region.

 

Theme 2 – Benthic habitats and communities

2.2 Pressure-response relationships, building resilience and future proofing seagrass meadows

Kathryn McMahon, Edith Cowan University

Simone Strydom, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

Project underway and experimental seagrass studies ongoing.

Improving our understanding of the resilience and responses of seagrass to environmental pressures (including dredging and sea temperature increases).

Theme 2 – Benthic habitats and communities

2.3 Seagrass restoration program

Gary Kendrick, The University of Western Australia

Jennifer Verduin, Murdoch University

Project underway and experiments ongoing. Initial review published (Published report). Westport’s summary of this published review is available here.

Developing a roadmap and guidelines for potential future seagrass restoration activities associated with Westport that can be implemented successfully, and at scale.

Theme 2 - Benthic habitats and communities

2.4 Benthic communities in soft-sediment and hard substrates: baseline data, pressure-response relationships of key biota for EIA, and mitigation strategies for artificial reefs

Glenn Hyndes, Edith Cowan University

James Tweedley, Murdoch University

Project underway. Two seasons of benthic surveys undertaken. Pressure-response and artificial reefs experiments ongoing.

Investigating the presence and distribution of benthic invertebrates within the project area Westport to better understand the potential indirect impacts of dredging.

Theme 2 - Benthic habitats and communities

2.4 Investigation of material preference and the role of ‘green walls’ in inhibiting the establishment of invasive marine species on port infrastructure

Glenn Hyndes, Edith Cowan University

James Tweedley, Murdoch University

Project scoped to accommodate components of the cancelled Project 4.6. Project set to commence Q1 2024.

Additional study scoped to mitigate the cancellation of Project 4.6 and support informed environmental management of potential invasive marine species within Cockburn Sound.

Theme 3 - Water and sediment quality

3.1 Water and sediment quality monitoring

Krzysztof Wienczugow, Marine and Freshwater Research Laboratory

Project underway. Sediment sampling, analysis and reporting completed. Water quality surveys ongoing.

Developing a contemporary baseline understanding of seawater and sediment quality, to benchmark potential changes associated with dredging and the broader project.

 

Theme 3 - Water and sediment quality

3.2 Processes governing nutrient and contaminant cycling in Cockburn Sound

n/a

Project cancelled. Components of the scope have been added to Project 3.4 and 3.5.

The expanded findings from Projects 3.4 and 3.5 will improve our understanding of how processes affecting nutrient and contaminant cycling affect benthic habitats, including seagrass, in Cockburn Sound to inform port development and management.

Theme 3 - Water and sediment quality

3.3 Elements of the groundwater/surface water flux into Cockburn Sound

Michael Donn, CSIRO

Project underway. Initial review of surface water flows completed and published (Published report). Westport’s summary of this initial review is now available here.

 

Groundwater and borehole sampling is ongoing.

Developing a comprehensive understanding of surface water nutrient flux into Cockburn Sound to inform environmental management. Will be included in the Public Environmental Review (PER) documentation, for Westport’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Theme 3 - Water and sediment quality

3.4 Sediment sulphides, oxygen flux and seagrass health

Gary Kendrick, The University of Western Australia

 

Project underway, with experiments commenced. Project scoped to include aspects of the cancelled Project 3.2.

Determining the thresholds of sulphide intrusion in Cockburn Sound seagrasses, and how seagrass is influenced by changes in environmental conditions (ie, sediment grain size, light), to inform port development and management.

Theme 3 - Water and sediment quality

3.5 Cockburn Sound Benthic Nutrient Flux Dynamics

Matt Hipsey, The University of Western Australia

Project being scoped. Proposed to commence in Q1 2024.

Measuring benthic metabolism and nutrient flux rates in sediment types and areas of Cockburn Sound to calibrate a fine-scale sediment biogeochemistry model of oxygen metabolism and nutrient cycling.

Theme 4 - Fisheries and aquatic resources

4.1 Snapper connectivity and evaluation of juvenile stocking

David Fairclough, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

Project underway. The second year (2022/23) of collection of genetic samples of snapper undertaken. Further sampling and analysis planned this year.

Investigating the connectivity and relative contribution of spawning snapper in Cockburn Sound to the broader, lower west coast snapper stock.

Theme 4 - Fisheries and aquatic resources

4.2.1 Spatial distribution and temporal variability in life stages of key fish species in Cockburn Sound

Danielle Johnston, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

Project underway. Two years of field work has been completed to date with further sampling planned.

Describing the spatio-temporal patterns of key species, including snapper, in Cockburn Sound and Owen Anchorage to determine the sensitive/critical time periods and life-stages and inform dredging controls.

Theme 4 - Fisheries and aquatic resources

4.2.2 Zooplankton in Cockburn Sound

Jennifer McIlwain, Curtin University

Project underway. Field sampling complete.

Compiling an updated and contemporary baseline of the spatial and temporal patterns of zoo-and- ichthyoplankton (e.g., early life stages of key species) assemblages and micronekton in Cockburn Sound.

Theme 4 - Fisheries and aquatic resources

4.2.3 Trophic pathways and food web structure

Glenn Hyndes, Edith Cowan University

James Tweedley, Murdoch University

Project underway. Field sampling and experimental analysis complete. Final reporting underway.

Investigating the diets of key fisheries species (e.g., snapper, blue swimmer crabs, whiting) and identifying trophic pathways from production, ie phytoplankton through to apex predators, dolphins.

Theme 4 - Fisheries and aquatic resources

4.3 Investigating effects of climate change on biota in Cockburn Sound

Nick Caputi, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

Neil Loneragan, Murdoch University

Study finalised. Final reporting underway.

Documenting historic environmental and biological trends to improve our understanding of the factors affecting the marine biota in Cockburn Sound.

Theme 4 - Fisheries and aquatic resources

4.4 Effects of total suspended sediments on key fish species

Euan Harvey, Curtin University

Stephen Newman, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

Report published - review and management strategies. 

Project underway; however, some aspects of the study are delayed due to unforeseen circumstances with experiments. 

Investigating the potential impact of suspended sediment from dredging activities on fish species to determine key environmental thresholds for the dredging program.

Theme 4 - Fisheries and aquatic resources

4.6 Investigating effect of Westport Development on invasive species risks

Chad Hewitt, Murdoch University

Justin McDonald, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

Project cancelled (elements of this project have been incorporated into Projects 2.4 and 4.7.

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Theme 4 - Fisheries and aquatic resources

4.7 Marine invasive species literature review

Dr Fred Wells, Curtin University

Study finalised. Final reporting underway.

Project 4.6 is developing a comprehensive understanding of the current state and distribution of introduced marine species in Cockburn Sound.

Theme 5 - Hydrodynamic modelling

5.1 Hydrodynamic modelling

Chari Pattiaratchi, The University of Western Australia

Study finalised. Final reporting underway.

Providing the oceanographic basis for the TUFLOW modelling platform to predict suspended sediment distribution from the dredging.

 

Theme 5 - Hydrodynamic modelling

5.2 Wave modelling

Chari Pattiaratchi, The University of Western Australia

Study finalised. Final reporting underway.

This project is assessing the current and predicted wave climate within Cockburn sound.

Theme 6 – Social values

6.1 Community values for changes in environmental condition

Michael Burton, The University of Western Australia

Study finalised. Final reporting underway.

Project 6.1 is assessing how Perth community’s values associated with marine environmental assets in Cockburn Sound that may be affected by a port development.

Theme 6 – Social values

6.2 Opportunities and impacts for recreational fishing from the Westport development  

Matthew Navarro, The University of Western Australia

Clara Obregón, Murdoch University

Project underway. Further analysis being undertaken.

This project will investigate the potential impacts and opportunities for recreational fishing associated with the Westport development.

Theme 6 – Social values

6.3 Recreation, amenity, and aesthetic values

Michael Hughes, Murdoch University

Study finalised. Report published.

Mapping non-fishing recreational use activities and associated values will provide Westport with information on how Cockburn Sound is used and valued through a broad range of activities.

Theme 6 – Social values

6.4 Benefit-cost framework for environmental port design features                                         

Abbie Rogers, The University of Western Australia

 

Project underway. Analysis and reporting continuing.

This project will develop a benefit‐cost analysis (BCA) framework to enable economic evaluation of environmental design options – and associated social outcomes - of the port development.

Theme 7 - Noise

7.1 Baseline soundscape, sound sources and transmission

Christine Erbe, Curtin University

Project underway. Analysis and reporting continuing.

Expanding our understanding on the contemporary baseline level of underwater noise in the project area to create a benchmark for noise created by the project development and operations.

Theme 7 - Noise

7.2 Hearing sensitivity of Australian sea lions, little penguins, and fish

Christine Erbe, Curtin University

Project underway. Analysis and reporting continuing.

Investigate the sensitivity of key species to underwater noise contextualise the noise associated with the construction of Westport.

 

Theme 7 - Noise

7.3 Behavioural fish audiogram (snapper and another species)

Miles Parsons, Australian Institute of Marine Science

Project delayed due to unforeseen circumstances with experiments. 

Investigating the sensitivity of key fish species to underwater noise to help Westport contextualise any noise associated with construction.

Theme 8 - Apex predators and iconic species

8.1 Determining the diet, causes of mortality, foraging habitat and home range of little penguins

 

Belinda Cannell, The University of Western Australia

Initial report complete and published.

(Published report). Westport’s summary of this initial report is now available here.

 

Further analysis of prey stable isotope data ongoing.

 

Outlines the potential risks from dredging on Little Penguins and potential strategies to mitigate impacts. The study will be included in the PER documentation, as part of Westport’s EIA.

Theme 8 - Apex predators and iconic species

8.2 Australian sea lions in the Perth Metropolitan area (abundance; movement, habitat use and diet)

Chandra Salgado-Kent, Edith Cowan University

Kelly Waples, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

Project underway. Analysis and reporting continuing.

Gaining greater knowledge of Australian Sea Lion abundance and habitat use in Cockburn Sound and metropolitan Perth, to determine any impacts from port development and activity.

Theme 8 - Apex predators and iconic species

8.3 Spatio-temporal distribution of key habitat-uses and key prey species for Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Owen Anchorage and Cockburn Sound, including a fine-scale understanding of the use of the habitats in the Kwinana Shelf

Delphine Chabanne, Murdoch University

Initial report complete and published (Published report). Westport’s summary of this initial report is now available here.

 

Analysis of contemporary data currently being undertaken.

The study provides valuable insights into the distribution of dolphins in Owen Anchorage and Cockburn Sound.

Theme 8 - Apex predators and iconic species

8.4 Spatio-temporal distribution of syngnathids in Cockburn Sound

Glenn Moore, Western Australian Museum

Project underway.

Providing greater knowledge of the distribution and abundance of iconic and threatened syngnathid fishes (seahorses, pipefishes, and sea dragons) within Cockburn Sound to assess potential risks.

Theme 9 - Coastal processes

9.1 Coastal processes and sediment movement in Cockburn Sound and Owen Anchorage

Jeff Hansen, The University of Western Australia

Project underway. Analysis and reporting continuing.

 

Quarterly bathymetric and topographic surveys underway. In situ field deployments of sediment transport instruments ongoing.

 

Development of a detailed historical record of shoreline positions in Cockburn Sound and Owen Anchorage has been completed.

This project will improve Westport’s understanding of natural sand transport pathways and coastal process within the region.

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