The McGowan Government has allocated $13.5 million to a three-year research partnership for Cockburn Sound.
Work will be undertaken by the independent Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) as part of a broader science project to support the Westport Program’s planning for a new port in Kwinana.
WAMSI will undertake a comprehensive research study to fill knowledge gaps, investigate potential impacts and improve understanding of Cockburn Sound’s ecosystem.
State Government environmental and fisheries officers, along with key community stakeholders, have informed these studies, and detailed planning is now underway by some of the top marine researchers in Western Australia.
The program will employ more than 100 scientists and technical staff who will work on more than 30 different projects, including:
- seagrass health and restoration;
- water circulation and quality;
- potential pathways of impact on marine fauna;
- key ecological and biological processes; and
- social values research and protection strategies.
Once research planning is completed, on-ground trials examining seagrass restoration and habitat creation will commence next year.
The WAMSI partnership will improve the Westport Program’s capacity to avoid, mitigate and offset environmental impacts.
It will help inform future Environmental Impact Assessments and help improve the future management of Cockburn Sound.
Comprising of 11 partners, WAMSI is an independent collaboration of State, Federal and academic organisations, and represents the full capacity of marine science expertise in WA.
Westport’s recommendation for a land-backed port in Kwinana was endorsed by the State Government in August 2020, with business case planning and the design phase underway.
As stated by Transport and Ports Minister Rita Saffioti:
“A new world-class port in Kwinana will unlock Western Australia’s future economic growth while also delivering local jobs and commercial opportunities in our southern suburbs.
“We have recently allocated $400 million in the State Budget for planning and strategic land acquisition.
“We will ensure there is rigorous environmental planning and assessment to protect the unique environment, its fisheries and give confidence to the community.
“WAMSI is a highly respected, independent marine research organisation and this collaboration will ensure an independent approach to the science informing the Westport Environmental Impact Assessment.
“Allocating $13.5 million for this major marine science program demonstrates how seriously we are taking the responsibility for ensuring our future port can be delivered and managed alongside the unique and important marine environment in Cockburn Sound.
“We are committed to delivering Westport and are currently investigating two options to transition to a port in Kwinana, along with work to provide a modern freight corridor along Anketell Road to Tonkin Highway.”