In October, The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) and The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) invited our local community to come together for the second annual Estuary Forum to find out about the current science on the health of the estuary and the work happening in and around the estuary to protect it.

The Estuary Forum is part of the Healthy Estuaries WA Program and the state government’s investment to protect and manage the Bindjareb Djilba, the Peel-Harvey Estuary.

The Peel-Harvey Estuary is the largest in the South West. When people think of Mandurah, they think of crabbing, fishing, dolphins and tourism. These are all important ecological cultural and economic values for the region and all of these values rely on good water quality. The Bindjareb Djilba (Peel-Harvey Estuary) Protection plan provides a collaborative framework that is aimed at guiding the protection and recovery of the estuary. 

The estuary suffered ecological collapse due too nutrient enrichment in the 70’s and 80’s. The Dawesville cut opened in 1994 resulted in a dramatic improvement in water quality but with change has also come increased salinity. On-going pressures on the estuary include continuing excess nutrients from agriculture, large estuarine habitat was lost to urban development and the impacts of climate change. These factors add pressure to maintaining the health of our fragile estuarine system

The Estuary Forum was aimed at informing community about the current health of the system, what has been done so far and what actions will be taken moving forward. Guests were able hear from representatives from The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Murdoch University and The Peel Harvey Catchment Council. Peel-Harvey Catchment Council provided an overview of our on-ground activities and actions that are contributing to the protection and restoration of river and estuary health through the Healthy Estuaries WA program. On-ground actions include stock exclusion fencing on rural drains and waterways that flow into the estuary, riparian revegetation and soil testing to inform evidence based fertiliser application and reduce phosphorus loads. DWER provided an overview update on the Bindjareb Djilba (Peel-Harvey Estuary) Protection plan, water quality monitoring and actions. Statistics and information regarding the Peel fish community Index and the Pygmy Mussel projects undertaken by Murdoch University was also shared.

Whilst there have been improvements to estuary health and estuarine habitat, there is much more work to be done.  Malcom Robb, DWER Aquatic Science Branch Manager summed it up well when he used the analogy that protecting and restoring the estuary is like washing your dishes. We all wash our dishes every day, if we didn’t we would have a mess on our hands. If we stop taking action to continue to improve the health of the estuary we will have an ecological mess on our hands! The work must continue.

The Bindjareb Djilba (Peel-Harvey Estuary) Protection Plan can be found here:

This project is part of the Bindjareb Djilba (Peel-Harvey estuary) Protection Plan and Healthy Estuaries WA, State Government initiatives to improve the water quality of the estuary.

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present