The Healthy Estuaries 2111 Forum seeks to capture the vision of what all Western Australians want our estuaries to look like in 100 years and work out what we need to do to ensure we still have healthy estuaries to enjoy into the future.
To be held at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, the Murdoch University-facilitated gathering will be opened by Minister for Environment and Water, The Hon Bill Marmion and will feature a talk by Professor Mike Elliot of the University of Hull, an international authority in estuarine science and management.
Dr Jane Chambers of Murdoch’s School of Environmental Science said the forum was an opportunity to hear from waterway users and experts and provide input into WA’s future estuary management.
“Given increases in our population as well as factors such as climate change, we need to decide now what we want for our cities in 50 and 100 years,” Dr Chambers said.
“Are we going to value our waterways so that our children and grandchildren can live the quintessential Western Australian lifestyle or are we going to wait, be reactive to change and risk losing what we love?”
Dr Chambers said she hoped for input from across the South-West, including communities dependent on the Swan-Canning, Peel-Harvey, Leschenault, Vasse-Wonnerup and south coast estuaries.
She said she was heartened by the strong uptake for the forum by private and public leaders, but urged all stakeholders to attend.
“Protecting our waterways isn’t just a Government issue. We need everyone to step up and stake their claim, from the recreational users to those involved in tourism, conservation, industry and fisheries. This includes Indigenous stakeholders, who can bring a unique perspective on management,” she said.
“This isn’t just an environmental issue – it’s grounded in community, family and the economic and social health of WA. In our state, 80 per cent of the population lives in councils that share the frontage of the Swan and Peel-Harvey estuaries, and this connection is ever-increasing.”
Dr Chambers said the forum’s origins could be traced back to WA Chief Scientist Professor Lyn Beazley, who identified the need for better coordination of research and management of estuarine ecosystems following her investigation into dolphin deaths in 2010.