15 December 2017…An exciting project in the heart of Mandurah has seen the establishment of a new Fairy Tern Sancturay to protect this vulnerable bird species. In a bid to secure a special space for Fairy Terns to nest and breed, the City of Mandurah and Coastwest reserved an area at the Mandurah Marina primarily for the conservation Fairy Terns.

In WA, the Fairy Tern is listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act, 1999.  They breed between October and February scratching fragile nests into the sand along beaches and estuary shorelines. This nesting behaviour makes their roosting and breeding sites extremely vulnerable to habitat disturbance and predation by introduced species.

The New Zealand Fairy Tern population is in drastic decline with only 4 breeding pairs remaining. Fairy Terns in WA have relied on the shorelines along the west coast and around Mandurah for nesting and breeding but with rapid coastal development our Fairy Tern population is also under serious threat. This prompted action by the Mandurah community to halt the decline of Fairy Tern populations before it is too late.

The City of Mandurah with the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council and Conservation Council WA are working together to protect the viability of the Fairy Tern population in WA by creating the community-managed sanctuary, with funding from Coastwest. The project will not only provide a safe nesting and breeding site in Mandurah but has created a space for the community to learn about and act in the conservation of a very special bird species. The Fairy Tern Sanctuary at the Mandurah Marina replicates another successful WA project at Rous Head, Fremantle, and was opened in November, before the Fairy Tern breeding season.

In support of the City of Mandurah and to complement the new sanctuary, PHCC designed a workshop for the community in a hands-on approach to Fairy Tern conservation. The Stories of the Fairy Tern Workshop was attended by 30 community members who were given the chance to paint Fairy Tern decoys, learn more about the Fairy Tern Sanctuary, connect with the Fairy Tern network and find out how to get involved with other citizen science aspects of this project.

The workshop was presented by Dr Nic Dunlop, a terrestrial and marine ecologist with special interests in seabird populations. Dr Dunlop spoke about the new the Fairy Tern Sanctuary at Mandurah Marina and also about the Fairy Tern breeding habits, behaviours and the importance of installing decoys into the newly prepared site.

Sue Kalab, a watercolour artist and convenor of BirdLife Australia in Bunbury, concluded the evening by showcasing her paintings on Fairy Terns and sharing her knowledge on Fairy Tern behaviour and other shorebirds. Sue spoke about the fragility of the coast and how she is driven to making a contribution to conservation through art.

Andy Gulliver from PHCC saidWe are pleased to work with the City of Mandurah on this project and share a role in connecting the community with the Fairy Tern Sanctuary. The evening was well received, participants genuinely enjoyed learning about the Fairy Terns, and being able to do their part for their sanctuary.  The Fairy Tern Sanctuary offers many exciting opportunities for the community to be involved in a positive conservation story right in the heart of Mandurah and we are excited to see this project progress.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to assist with the Fairy Tern Sanctuary should contact environmental.services@mandurah.wa.gov.au

The workshop was supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program.

Coastwest is a State Government initiative undertaken by the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage


Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800


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

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