Western Australia’s e-newsletter for coastal and marine conservation.
Connecting researchers, community and government as communities of coastal care.

ISSUE 10 | MAY 2022


Welcome to the Autumn edition of WA Coastal News

There has been a lot happening this quarter with our coastal volunteers and other stakeholders busy developing project proposals to preserve and improve the environmental, social, and economic value of our coastal and marine areas. The successful applicants of CoastWA and State NRM funding will be announced later in the year, and we look forward to seeing more activity along the WA coast.

In this issue, we highlight some of the great work already underway, from successful conservation efforts, to citizen science programs, and partnerships supporting coastal rehabilitation. You could nominate one of these programs, or another, for a WA Coastal Award - nominations are now open!

Other ways to get involved include presenting on your coastal activities at the WA NRM and Coastal Conference in September (abstracts open) or joining Tangaroa Blue’s beach cleanup in Augusta.

Thanks again to all of our contributors, and the amazing volunteers who make each edition possible.

Carmen Elrick-Barr
Vice-Chair, Australian Coastal Society


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In our backyard

Fairy Tern breeding season a winner

Juvenile Fairy Tern. Photo Credit: Claire Greenwell

This year's breeding season for WA's Fairy Tern has been a successful one, thanks to conservation efforts and community support! The WA Fairy Tern Network, led by CCWA, has reported at least 12 successful breeding colonies between Cape Arid and Leeman, with one site in the Mandurah region supporting around 350 breeding pairs. Teams of volunteers, working alongside local authorities and land managers, have employed innovative measures to protect the breeding colonies from disturbance. It was particularly heartening to find four additional shelters added over the year…. by some mystery builders!

Read the full story here >

Interactive story for WA seagrasses

Sea lion at the seagrasses of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Photo Credit: Amber Taylor

Amber Taylor is in her final year of Coastal and Marine Science (Bachelor of Science) at Curtin University. As part of a remote externship she completed with the National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy, Amber put together a 'call to action’ interactive story highlighting the significance of seagrasses in Western Australia and the vital role of the community in its conservation and restoration.

Check out the interactive Story Map here >

'Bycatch' dolphin capture in the Pilbara not sustainable

The Pilbara Trawl Fishery off the northwestern coast of Australia. Copyright: © 2014 Allen et al.

An international research team show that past and ongoing levels of dolphin capture in the Pilbara of Western Australia are not sustainable. The ‘bycatch’, or accidental capture of non-target species during commercial fishing, is threatening protected and endangered species including dolphins, turtles, sea snakes, and more, including the critically endangered sawfish.

Read more >

A new coastal protection project in Cockburn

An aerial view of the engineered fringing reef at C.Y. O'Connor Beach in the City of Cockburn.
Photo Credit: Subcon

The City of Cockburn, with support from Coastwest and the community, has commenced a two-part program to stabilise the dunes and buffer the foreshore from storm impacts. Onshore, a buried geotextile seawall is being constructed and will be followed by a community planting program to stabilise and revegetate the coastal dunes. Offshore, the City has installed a wave attenuating reef comprising 135 concrete modules to protect the coastline. It is anticipated that this engineered reef will dissipate wave energy during storm events while creating additional habitat for marine life.

Read the full story here >

More from community

A successful partnership at Trigg Beach

Top Left: Vacant block 2018. Top Right: After planting June 2018. Bottom: Vegetation established 2018.
Photo Credit: Robyn Murphy, Friends of Trigg Beach.

In March 2018, the Friends of Trigg Beach became aware that the State Government had purchased a vacant block of land a few metres from the famous Trigg Point. The land had previously been cleared after demolishing a privately owned beach house built in the early 1900s. Determined that this land should be restored and revegetated given its close proximity to the shoreline, the group contacted the WA Department of Planning, Lands & Heritage. The resulting restoration project and its positive outcomes are a result of the strong partnership between the State Government and local conservation groups.

Read the full story here >

Citizen science in 2022 is soaring: Seabird monitoring at Rat Island

Citizen scientists at Rat Island. Photo Credit: Nic Dunlop

The CCWA Citizen Science team have just returned from Rat Island, Houtman Abrolhos, where they investigated the population dynamics of the threatened Australian Fairy Tern and documented the recovery of seabirds following rat, cat, and mouse removal. The team undertook a range of activities including the mark-recapture of Fairy Terns, identifying the locations of Little Shearwater and Wedge-tailed Shearwater burrows, surveying birdlife, and searching for signs of mouse activity. Efforts to remove mice in 2018 appear to have been successful with no evidence of the mammals observed on Rat Island for 4 years.

Read the full story here >

Coral spawning success advances Ningaloo climate research

The spectacular coral spawning event that occurs off Western Australia’s Ningaloo coastline each year has been successfully simulated for the first time at the Minderoo Exmouth Research Lab, under controlled conditions. The coral larvae now growing in Exmouth are being used by scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and The University of Western Australia to examine why some individual corals are more resilient to heat stress.

Read more and watch video here >

Upcoming events

Tangaroa Blue clean ups in Augusta

Recent Augusta clean-ups. Photo Credit: Casey Woodward

The Tangaroa Blue Foundation has been cleaning beaches and recording what they find at Foul Bay, Quarry Bay and Hill View Road since the organisation's inception in 2004. These sites are the longest running datasets in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database and offer valuable information regarding debris loads in the Augusta region. With the cooler weather and storm surges fast approaching, the debris loads will be significantly increased, and extra hands are needed to remove litter from the beaches. Attending one of their monthly clean-ups is a great opportunity to spend some time in a beautiful region and learn more about the great work of the Tangaroa Blue Foundation.

The next clean-up is scheduled for Saturday the 4th of June at Foul Bay. Meet at the Foul Bay carpark off Cosy Corner Road at 9:00am. Bags and gloves will be provided.

Please register your interest by emailing

Upcoming Conferences

WA State Natural Resource Management and Coastal Conference
20 – 22 September 2022 / Mandurah, WA

The theme of Building Resilience through Innovation aims to showcase, explore and expand on what has already been developed, and look towards key learnings to continue adapting in the future. Registrations for the 2022 WA State NRM and Coastal Conference are now open (Early Bird rates end on 20 June 2022).

More information >

AMSA “Change and Connections”
7-11 August 2022 / Cairns, Queensland

The conference theme of “Change and Connections” emphasises the important linkages among environmental, ecological and social systems at a time characterised by rapid change across all these areas.

More information >

International Conference on Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries Management ICMPAFM / 30-31 August 2022 / Sydney, Australia

The conference provides an interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries Management.

More Information >

37th International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE) 2022

4-9 December 2022; International Convention Centre, Sydney NSW

The goal of the ICCE is to promote academic and technical exchange on coastal related studies covering a wide range of topics including coastal waves, nearshore currents, coastal structures, sediment transport, coastal morphology, beach nourishment, natural hazards and coastal management.

More information >

National and international news


Adelaide beach sand nourishment project halted to review all options

In April 2022 the South Australian Government announced that construction of a sand recycling pipeline between West Beach and Semaphore South will be halted to undertake a comprehensive review of all available options to ensure a long-term solution that puts the community and the environment at the core. Until the review is completed, externally sourced sand will continue to be brought into West Beach. A report has also been prepared to assist in managing erosion at West Beach, including developing and implementing a plan to stabilise key erosion points for sections of the dune system.

Read more >

Less coral bleaching at Ningaloo compared to the Great Barrier Reef

Moderate coral bleaching at Bundegi reef in Exmouth Gulf, March 2022. Photo Credit: Shannon Duffy, UWA.

Scientists working on Ningaloo Reef have found only limited (about 10%) or no coral bleaching in most areas this summer (reported in Perth Now), although bleaching was moderate in the Exmouth Gulf. Unfortunately it is quite different on the east coast, where the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has just published its Reef Snapshot 2021-22. 2021 had the hottest December on record since 1900, despite cooler La Niña conditions for the entire summer. Unusually, this was the first mass bleaching event to occur under La Niña conditions – the report shows severe to extreme bleaching (>60-90% cover bleached, Map 1) over much of the central region of the reef.


Why are win-wins in environmental management hard to find?

When a booming marine fishery can increase its shrimp catch while also reducing unintentional bycatch of turtles – that's an example of what environmental scientists and managers call a 'win-win.' Models often predict this ideal outcome is achievable, yet stakeholders rarely see it manifest in the real world.

Read more >

Sea level may rise in some NZ cities at twice the global rate

Photo credit: Wikimedia CC4.0

Recently released and publicly accessible maps incorporate global sea-level rise and local vertical land movement to show specific sea level rise projections for every 2 km of the New Zealand coast. The government-funded research should enable better decision-making about managing the consequences of more rapidly rising seas, especially in coastal cities with extensive and expensive infrastructure. The new projections will inform the NZ national adaptation plan and contribute to updating their coastal hazards guidance for local government.

New Zealand will adapt cities to survive rising seas

The New Zealand government has released new plans to prepare the country for the catastrophic effects of climate change including sea level rise, floods, storms and wildfires. In addition to building away from high-risk areas and protecting cultural sites, there are proposals for sweeping reforms to institutions, councils and laws to try to stop people building in hazardous areas, preserve cultural treasures, improve disaster responses, protect the financial system from the shocks of future disasters, and reform key industries including tourism, fisheries and farming.

Read more >

NZ Coastal Society March 2022 Newsletter: out now

Coastal News contains some particularly relevant articles including: 1) biodiversity offsetting and compensation in the marine environment from a regional council officer's perspective; and 2) using data-driven approaches to make short-term predictions of storm surge around NZ's coast.

Read more >

The UK is innovating to adapt to coastal erosion

The UK Government’ will invest £36 million to explore innovative approaches of adapting to the effects of coastal erosion. Known as the Coastal Transition Accelerator Programme, local authorities in Yorkshire and North Norfolk will receive funding to help communities on areas of the coast that cannot sustainably be defended from coastal erosion. Interventions might include: replacing infrastructure with removable, modular, or other innovative buildings; repurposing land in erosion zones by creating/restoring habitats as green buffer zones; financing schemes to incentivise the relocation of at-risk infrastructure for businesses and homeowners.

Read more >

UK Port and Coastal Towns Network will improve coastal sustainability

The UK Port and Coastal Towns Network will connect academics and seldom-heard communities across the UK to undertake new, ground-breaking research. The aim is to identify people-focused, infrastructure-based solutions that will improve social well-being and prosperity in coastal communities through sustainable regeneration. Research questions will be based around connectivity with the coast; inclusive infrastructure; maintaining and enhancing resilience; coastal region transport; and nature-inspired, human scale engineering.

Read more>


An ongoing series of reports that draw attention to the dramatic changes taking place in our global oceans, across a wide variety of subjects (from nanoparticles to marine epidemics and sea-farmed supercrops), and the innovations under way to tackle them.

Read more >

7th Oceans Conference was held in Palau in April 2022

There was an emphasis on smaller developing nations, traditional resource uses and community management, sustainability, aquaculture, and climate change. Videos of the many interesting panels and talks can all be accessed online.

Read more >

News from government

Nominations open for 2022 Western Australian Coastal Awards for Excellence

The coastal awards celebrate outstanding achievements across a range of categories: coastal champions, coastal planning, coastal management and adaption, education and engagement, coast design, and science and research. It is a great opportunity to recognise the hard work done by individuals, agencies, schools and organisations to enhance, rehabilitate and adapt to threats and pressures to the WA coastline. The awards are presented by the WA Planning Commission and winners will be announced in September at the 2022 WA State NRM and Coastal Conference in Mandurah.

Nominations close Wednesday July 6, 2022

Click here to nominate for an award >

$7 million joint project to prevent coastal flooding in WA

The City of Busselton and the Federal Government have announced a new $7 million jointly funded project to reduce the risk of coastal flooding from tropical cyclone storms, in the regional area of Western Australia.

Check out how the money will be spent here >

Published Research Listing


Recreational fishers in WA report signal a changing climate

A team of researchers, including members of WAMSI, assessed the demographics and fishing behaviour of people involved in a boat-based recreational fishery in Western Australia. Recreational fishers, in both temperate and tropical waters, associated changes in fish species type and distribution with climate change, and more than half attributed climate change to human activity. This recognition was higher amongst metropolitan residents, females and younger respondents. The study was published in ICES Journal of Marine Science (the abstract is available without a subscription).

Read more >

Coastal management and the Australian Government: A personal perspective from Bruce Thom

As a well-respected scientist and pioneer of coastal research in Australia, Dr Bruce Thom has offered his perspective on the reasons it has been and continues to be very difficult to achieve coherence and progress in coastal management (CZM) in Australia. Major reasons include: 1) the lack of a national legal framework, 2) the lack of a national coastal/ marine office, 3) the fact that most coastal management power resides in different state and local governments, and 4) constant changes in federal government Ministers, policies, department structures and funded programs – all of this contributes to a lack of ongoing involvement of the Australian Government in CZM. Importantly, he concludes that the forces and impacts of climate change require a national approach to CZM in Australia.

Read more >

Current information provided to coastal households rarely helps them adapt to climate change

Although households play an important role in reducing coastal vulnerability, and governments provide information to support coastal household adaptation, there is limited evidence of its effectiveness in influencing household response. Studies of households in two Australian coastal communities explored the types of information shaping household responses to three hazard scenarios: a heatwave, a severe storm, and sea-level rise. The authors concluded that decision makers need to consider novel and diverse information channels if households are to transition from coping to adaptation, so it actively conveys that adaptation is the ‘glue’ between hazard management and household resilience.

Read more >

Assessing the coastal protection services of natural mangrove forests and artificial rock revetments, Victoria

Field measurements, a social science survey and economic valuation were used to compare the coastal protection services of mangroves and rock revetments at five locations in Victoria, Australia. Most survey respondents agreed that mangroves provide important coastal protection benefits, although the actual wave attenuation benefit and cost varied with location. Coastal managers and policy makers will have more success in advocating for nature-based coastal protection if they are implemented in locations where they are eco-engineering and socio-economically acceptable options for climate change adaptation.

Read more >


Perspectives on beach access, property rights, and social-distributive questions from fifteen countries

While access to the beach and coastal zone is a key part of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, the legal right to access varies across countries and states. The authors argue that accessibility to coastal zones is a multi-faceted concept that includes: horizontal access, vertical access, access to sea views, and access for people with disabilities. They point out both legal frameworks and potential social justice issues, although rules agreed by these countries have had only limited on-the-ground influence. There is a need to address the many inequalities in the rights to beach access.

Read more >

Climate change, voluntary immobility, and place-belongingness: Insights from Fiji

Many low-lying communities are increasingly experiencing coastal hazard risks which could necessitate climate-related relocation. However, some communities oppose relocation plans despite facing significant impacts from coastal erosion, tidal inundation, and saltwater intrusion. In Fiji, the authors investigated the personal, ancestral, relational, cultural, economic, and legal connections to place and argue that for adaptation strategies to be successful and sustainable, they must acknowledge the community values, perspectives, and preferences and account for the connections to a place.

Read more >

Trade-offs and synergies in managing coastal flood risk in New York City

The authors discuss how the recently developed island City On a Wedge (iCOW) framework can be useful because it helps decision-makers to examine “real-world” strategy options over a wide range of uncertainties. It can also be used to analyze a larger set of objectives than many more complex and expensive storm-surge risk models. This would benefit many coastal communities that require modeling results for making decisions yet lack the required resources.

Read more >

Building Resilience through Collaborative Management of Coastal Protection and Restoration Planning in Louisiana, USA

In an effort to develop an integrated coastal restoration plan for a state that faces massive coastal land loss and storm surge flood risk, the researchers started by recognizing the knowledge, experience, and priorities of local stakeholders including residents, landowners, and local people from the seafood, navigation, and oil and gas industries. Their knowledge was translated into data that could be more readily incorporated into numerical models and other planning tools. Using an interactive, iterative approach combined with local knowledge mapping and participatory modeling, the groups worked with scientists to develop a restoration plan based on consensus and linked natural–nature-based solutions.

Read more >

Thank you for reading WA Coastal News

Part of Western Australia's spectacular southern coast, Fitzgerald National Park.
Photo credit: MA Ferland

If you have any news to share in our newsletter we would love to hear from you.

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This newsletter is produced by ACS (Australian Coastal Society Ltd) in partnership with CMCN (Western Australian Coastal and Marine Network).

WA Coastal News acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of the lands and coastlines of Western Australia. We pay our respects to the Elders past, present and emerging as we share knowledge and care for the land and waters of this state.


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