Peel – Harvey Estuary

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Ocean opening Dual permanently open (natural & artificial -Dawesville Cut ,1994)
Estuary surface area 134 km²
Catchment area 9556 km²
Catchment: estuary ratio 71
Mean annual rainfall 850 mm/yr
Mean annual discharge 398 GL/year (1997-2007)
Catchment cleared 59%
Urban landuse 9%
Agricultural landuse 51%


City/town Mandurah
Population 100000
Population growth rate 3.4% pa
People per estuary area 746
Shipping trade none
Commercial fishing 11 licences
Recreation/tourism Fishing, boating, crabbing, dolphin and bird watching

The Peel Region is known for its natural beauty and opportunities for waterside living. The Ramsar-listed Peel-Harvey estuary is the largest and most diverse estuarine complex in south-western Australia. It is a key destination for tourism and recreation, particularly popular for boating, fishing and crabbing.

The Peel-Harvey estuary suffered ecological collapse in the 1970s-80s due to nutrient enrichment. This resulted in the engineering solution of the Dawesville Cut in 1994, constructed at a cost of $76 million. Unfortunately the estuary is again suffering from pressures that threaten the natural values and lifestyle of the region.

$6 million will be spent to understand and improve the condition of the Peel-Harvey estuary and the Serpentine, Murray and Harvey catchments during the Regional Estuaries Initiative. This funding will be supported by co-investments from natural resource management groups, local governments and industry partners. By implementing priority drainage projects to reduce nutrients entering the estuary, the Regional Estuaries Initiative will complement actions proposed for delivery as part of the Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million.

For the Peel-Harvey estuary, the Regional Estuaries Initiative will:

  • Fund the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council for joint delivery of on-ground actions resulting in evidence-based long term management strategies for the Peel-Harvey estuary and catchment
  • In partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development , the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council and farmers, reduce the nutrient runoff from farms while supporting farm productivity
  • Work with catchment groups to restore stream function and modify drainage to improve water quality at priority sites
  • Trial new materials to treat soil, water and drains
  • Update modelling to evaluate potential estuary management actions and fund ongoing monitoring of the Peel-Harvey estuary and its catchments.

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