|Central coordinates||145o 20.87' East 38o 21.32' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i|
|Altitude||0 - 20m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2009|
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.
Key Biodiversity Western Port regularly supports more than 20,000 waterbirds (DSE 2003); it is believed that these numbers have been maintained through the 2000s. The bay hosts significant below-threshold numbers of Black Swan and Chestnut Teal although both species have declined over time. This can be seen from a comparison of the average counts for 14 years to 2006 with those for the five years to 2006: Black Swan 4015/3008 and Chestnut Teal 991/689. Significant numbers of Short-tailed Shearwater feed in the channels of the bay during summer. One pair of the near-threatened Hooded Plover has nested in 2006 and 2007 (R. Jessop in litt. 2007). The near threatened Flame Robin was recorded in eight of 215 (8%) Atlas of Australian Birds surveys from 1998 to 2008 (Atlas of Australian Birds database); and the biome-restricted Striated Fieldwren was recorded in 17 of 215 (8%) Atlas of Australian Birds surveys from 1998 to 2008 (Atlas of Australian Birds database).
|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|
|2008||medium||not assessed||not assessed|
|Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data|
|Agriculture and aquaculture||livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||slow but significant deterioration||medium|
|Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases||invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||slow but significant deterioration||medium|
|Pollution||agricultural & forestry effluents - soil erosion, sedimentation||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Pollution||agricultural & forestry effluents - type unknown/unrecorded||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Pollution||industrial & military effluents - type unknown/unrecorded||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Residential and commercial development||commercial and industrial development||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|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||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: Commercial and recreational fishing|
|nature conservation and research||major|
|Notes: Shipping lanes and port|
|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 (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Western Port. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/05/2015
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