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Protecting Victoria’s Iconic Western Port Wetlands

31 March 2017

Victoria’s iconic Western Port Ramsar Site will be better protected thanks to a new management plan developed by the Andrews Labor Government.

The new Western Port Ramsar Site Management Plan sets out strategies that will guide management of the Western Port Site over the next 7 years. The objective of the plan is to maintain the site’s ecological character.

Ramsar sites are wetlands that are listed as having international importance.

Western Port has long been recognised for its diversity of native flora and fauna, particularly for its ability to support diverse assemblages of waterbirds and wetland vegetation, including seagrass, saltmarsh and mangroves.

The site supports over 30 migratory waterbird species that are listed under international agreements with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Important habitats within the site include the extensive intertidal mudflats and saltmarsh where migratory waders feed. High tide roosting sites, where waders can rest are also important.

The Western Port Ramsar Site is located 60 kilometres southeast of Melbourne and comprises a large proportion of the Western Port embayment to the north of Phillip Island.

It consists of large shallow intertidal areas, dissected by deeper channels and covers approximately 60,000 hectares. It includes a number of small islands such as Quail, Elizabeth and Ram Islands and the southern tip of French Island known as Tortoise Head.

To help implement the plan, the Labor Government is providing $640,000 from the Water for Victoria initiative, aimed at improving the health of waterways and catchments across regional Victoria.

The plan ensures Victoria meets its obligations under Victorian and Commonwealth Government legislation and the Ramsar Convention to maintain the ecological character of the site.

It also meets one of the recommendations of the Victorian Auditor General’s Office audit Meeting obligations to protect Ramsar wetlands.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville

“Western Port is listed as a Ramsar site of international importance because of its outstanding saltmarsh, mangrove and seagrass habitats, and the number and diversity of waterbirds.”

“We have worked with the community to put a new management plan in place to ensure Western Port is a thriving, healthy environment for generations to come.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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