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Location Australia, Victoria
Central coordinates 145o 20.87' East  38o 21.32' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 62,301 ha
Altitude 0 - 20m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary Western Port regularly supports small numbers of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot, declining numbers of the vulnerable Fairy Tern, and more than 1% of the world population of Eastern Curlew, Red-necked Stint and Pied Oystercatcher.

Site description Western Port is a large bay of the coast of central Victoria. The boundaries of the IBA are those of the Ramsar site, with the inclusion of some additional salt marsh on French Island, which supports Orange-bellied Parrots. Other paddocks on French Island occasionally support Orange-bellied Parrots but these are irregular. Western Port is a large bay with extensive intertidal flats, mangroves, salt marsh, seagrass beds, several small islands and the two large islands of French and Phillip. Only the north-east coast of Phillip island is included in this IBA, whereas the south coast is included in the Phillip Island IBA. Western Port is a tidal bay with numerous inlet streams including Merricks Creek, Yallock Creek and Bass River and several major drains such as Bunyip River. It is a very good example of a saltmarsh-mangrove-seagrass wetland system. The plains to the north of the bay used to be extensive swamps that are now agricultural land draining to Western Port.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris resident  2001-2006  233-391 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis non-breeding  2001-2006  557-872 individuals  good  A4i  Vulnerable 
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis non-breeding  2001-2006  4,246-8,903 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Pacific Gull Larus pacificus resident  1993-2006  118-540 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Fairy Tern Sternula nereis resident  1993-2006  2-108 individuals  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Orange-bellied Parrot Neophema chrysogaster non-breeding  1995-2007  5 individuals  A1  Critically Endangered 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Churchill Island Marine National Park 670 protected area contained by site 670  
French Island Marine National Park 2,800 protected area contained by site 2,800  
French Island National Park 11,160 protected area overlaps with site 1,166  
North Western Port Nature Conservation Reserve 1,960 protected area contained by site 1,461  
Phillip Island Phillip Island Nature Park 2,118 protected area overlaps with site 305  
Reef Island and Bass River Mouth Nature Conservation Reserve 297 protected area contained by site 229  
Yaringa Marine National Park 980 protected area contained by site 980  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Mangrove wetlands; Salt marshes; Shingle & stony beaches  major

Land ownership Unreserved Crown Land, coastal, nature, marine & public purpose parks & reserves managed by Parks Victoria; waters and sea beds (unreserved Crown Land) & shoreline near Somers managed by DSE; declared naval waters managed by Dept of Defence; Port of Hastings managed by Victorian Channels Authority; Shoreline Stony Point to Jacks Beach managed by Committee of Management; Finders Phillip Island Nature Park managed by park authority; Elizabeth and Sandstone Islands (both very small) - freehold.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture minor
Notes: Commercial and recreational fishing
military minor
nature conservation and research major
urban/industrial/transport minor
Notes: Shipping lanes and port
tourism/recreation minor
Notes: Most tourism is on the two major islands, French and Phillip

Protection status Several - see appropriate section.

Acknowledgements BOCA kindly gave access to their long-term bird monitoring database. Richard Lyon - Arthur Rylah Institute of Environmental Research; Janet Holmes - DSE and Peter Dann provided expert advice during preparation of the nomination.

References BOCA Western Port bird counts database.

Parks Victoria (1998) French Island National Park Management Plan - October 1998. Parks Victoria: Kew.

DSE (2003) Western Port Ramsar Site Strategic Management Plan. Department of Sustainability and Environment: East Melbourne.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Western Port. Downloaded from on 31/10/2014

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