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Westernport Bay

Don't let this happen to Westerport Bay. Image © Greenpeace

Don't let this happen to Westerport Bay. Image © Greenpeace


Victoria's marine playground is in danger - new research shows that Westernport Bay, recognised globally for its marine and coastal environmental values, is at high risk of oil pollution from relatively minor spills.

The previous Victorian Government planned to expand the Port of Hastings into an international container port with shipping traffic projected to increase from under 100 a year to more than 3000 annually.

This drastic increase in shipping traffic would considerably heighten the risk of oil spills and the disaster scenarios that come with it.


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Help shape the future of Westernport Bay

What sort of future do you envision for Westernport Bay?

Do you want to see it turned into an international shipping container port with massive industrial development? Or do you want it to become a beacon for sustainable development?

 Read more


Port development a big mistake

Before any further work or money is spent on developing an expanded port there needs to be a commitment from both major federal political parties to conduct a comprehensive and independent assessment using the full force of federal environmental laws.

Any proper assessment should consider environmental impacts, risks and alternative port locations to Westernport.


Risk to birdlife

Two new expert reports heighten fears for the bay's internationally significant birdlife if the port expansion goes ahead.

The research shows that a number of nationally threatened migratory bird species will be put at risk from oil spills, dredging, land clearing and vessel wash if the Port of Hastings expansion gets the green light.

Building on previously released oil spill modelling, the two new expert reports warn that:

  • A single, moderately-sized oil spill would have severe and long-lasting impacts on internationally significant populations of migratory shorebirds.
  • Typically penguins are the birds most affected by oil spills. Little Penguins are at high risk of being covered in oil and subsequent death from oil spills at McHaffies Reef, which is at the entrance to Westernport's main shipping channel.
  • Seabirds such as cormorants and grebes foraging in the waters of Lower North Arm would be at high risk of being covered in oil from spills at either Long Island Point jetty or McHaffies Reef. It is likely that large numbers of these birds would die. Large numbers of swans and ducks would also be at high risk.
  • Hooded Plovers on the northern beaches of Phillip Island are also susceptible to oil spills.
  • An oil spill in Westernport Bay would damage large areas of seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh depending on tidal and weather conditions, and substantial areas of seagrass meadows would potentially need to be removed along the western shore of the Lower North Arm during major dredging operations for the port development.

 Find out more


Is it worth the risk?

New research commissioned by the VNPA and the Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council shows that even moderate oil spills can reach local shorelines within minutes.

It also shows that most high-value conservation areas in Westernport could be hit by a spill within less than six hours.

That includes places like Phillip Island Nature Park, which is home to colonies of Little Penguins, and French Island Marine National Park, a critical roosting, feeding and wading areas for waterbirds.

Westernport is too precious to lose. By taking action today you can help shape a healthy future for the bay, so that we can continue to surf, fish, dive and sail in unpolluted waters.

The VNPA is working closely with the Westernport & Peninsula Protection Council on the Save Westernport campaign. The council has been campaigning for the protection of this beautiful bay for the past 42 years.


Bay West, another environmental disaster in the making

On one side of politics we have the Opposition (former Napthine Government) backing the development of a new megaport in Westernport Bay. On the other side stands the Labor Government, which in Opposition was pitching its flag on the shorelines of western Port Phillip Bay, known as Bay West.

Both port development options are environmental disasters in waiting, requiring substantial dredging at either location and the likely clearing of important marine and coastal habitat such as seagrass meadows.

Read more


Share on Facebook and Twitter

Our campaign video tells the story why Westernport is in danger. Please share it far and wide onFacebook and Twitter.

Download backgrounders

 Oil spill impacts on Westernport bird species
 Oil spill impacts on Westernport seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh
 Shipping oil spill impacts on Westernport Bay


Download reports

 Impact of proposed Port of Hastings expansion on the birdlife of Western Port
 Impact of proposed Port of Hastings expansion on seagrass, mangroves and salt marsh
 The ecosystem service value of Westernport Bay
 Qualitative assessment of exposure risks due to oil spills from shipping in Western Port Bay


Video simulations of oil spill scenarios in Westernport Bay

 Westernport Bay during winter from McHaffies Reef
 Westernport Bay during summer from Long Island Point Jetty
 Winter in Westernport Bay


Video simulations of oil spill scenarios in Westernport Bay

Westernport Bay during winter from McHaffies Reef
Westernport Bay during summer from Long Island Point Jetty
Winter in Westernport Bay