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Environment

Marine (Cockburn Sound)

Cockburn Sound, located 20 kilometres south of Fremantle Inner Harbour, is the most intensively used marine environment in Western Australia.

It is a significant State asset in economic, environmental and social terms.

The sheltered waters of the Sound are popular for fishing and more than 12,000 recreational boating trips are recorded annually. The Sound is also used for commercial fishing, with more than 130 species of fish and 14 crustacean and mollusc species found in various habitats, as well as aquaculture operations involving mussel farming.

Yet the Sound is also a vital part of a major industrial area because it supports extensive port facilities, a strategic national naval base, and marine maintenance shipyards.

The multiple uses of the Sound are expected to increase in the near future, contributing further to the West Australian lifestyle and economy. Preserving a healthy marine ecosystem in Cockburn Sound therefore demands careful environmental management and planning by all users including industry, State Government and the community.

The Kwinana Industries Council (KIC) and its member companies are committed to ensuring a healthy Cockburn Sound marine ecosystem that can be enjoyed by people, whilst supporting the growth of Western Australia. This is reinforced by KIC’s membership on the Cockburn Sound Management Council.

The KIC is committed to the sustainable development of Cockburn Sound by balancing the economic, environmental and social progress of the area.

 

Cockburn Sound Management Council (CSMC)

The long term management of Cockburn Sound is of vital importance to the future of industry and all other users of this important natural resource.

For this reason the KIC is an active participant in the Cockburn Sound Management Council, along with Commonwealth, State and local Governments and a range of community groups .The Council was established in 2000 to coordinate environmental planning and management of Cockburn Sound and its catchment.

As the Cockburn Sound Management Council was being formed the Environmental Protection Authority commenced drafting an Environmental Protection Policy (EPP) for Cockburn Sound. The draft EPP outlines the environmental values, objectives and criteria for managing Cockburn Sound and will undergo a public consultation process.

The EPP requires the Cockburn Sound Management Council to prepare an Environmental Management Plan for the Sound. An interim Plan has now been completed detailing a five point plan for implementing the EPP:

1. Protecting the environmental values of Cockburn Sound

2. Facilitating multiple use of Cockburn Sound and its foreshore

3. Integrating management of the land and marine environments

4. Coordinating research and investigations

5. Monitoring and reporting on performance

Through the KIC’s involvement in the Cockburn Sound Management Council, and with the licencee commitments of individual companies, industry will continue to work towards its goal of improving water quality in Cockburn Sound so as to ensure a healthy marine ecosystem.

Map of Cockburn Sound

Reports – State of the Sound

Location of seagrass monitoring sites in and around Cockburn Sound | Image source: www.der.wa.gov.au

Seagrass

As industry grew along Cockburn Sound, so too did the level of nitrogen inputs to the water. This was demonstrated by studies undertaken in the early 1970s.

Since then, ongoing management strategies have reduced nitrogen inputs to the Sound, so that they are now much lower than they were 30 years ago.

The increased boating, shipping and naval uses of Cockburn Sound also raised new issues. A State Government study in the 1990s found there was widespread contamination of sediments and mussels by tributyltin (TBT), a highly toxic ingredient used in anti-foulant paints applied to ships and boats1.

Foreign marine organisms were also discovered in the Sound. Whilst there are several ways in which foreign marine organisms may have been introduced, it is thought that the discharge of ballast water or dislocation from ship’s hulls may have been the cause.

The same study also found that manufacturing industry discharge into Cockburn Sound had reduce significantly and more of the inputs came from groundwater previously contaminated by other sources. Other findings from the study were that:

  • Metals and organic contaminants inputs from industry were far less than the late 1970s;

  • Seagrass dieback had slowed considerably; and

  • All local beaches met human-health guidelines for swimming and shellfish harvesting.

Spill Management

A ‘spill event’ rarely occurs because of the extensive procedures for the of loading and unloading ships that are in place. A spill is where material being transported across a jetty or wharf finds its way into the sea. A spill event will initiate a response, and that response could range from no action required, to implementing a major clean-up through the implementation of a ‘Spill Management Plan’.

The responsible agency in these cases, in respect to the water body referred to as Cockburn Sound along the industrial coast and associated channels is managed by the Fremantle Port Authority as the lead response agency. Fremantle Ports carries out ‘incident response’ exercises from time to time, and these usually engage with various industries depending on the nature of the exercise incident.

Contact Us

PO Box 649
Kwinana WA 6966

Tel: (08) 9419 1855

Email: admin@kic.org.au

Contact Us

PO Box 649
Kwinana WA 6966

Tel: (08) 9419 1855

Email: admin@kic.org.au