People caring for Oyster Harbour showcase achievements

Changing fertiliser practices and revegetating waterways are among the ways farmers and the urban community are working together with the State Government to protect the South Coast’s Oyster Harbour.

Minister for Water Hon Simone McGurk MLA recently met with program participants in Albany to see first-hand their work to protect the estuary.  

Minister McGurk with Sayah Drummond, Chris Norton, and Bruce Radys from Oyster Harbour Catchment Group.

Farmers, including sheep and beef farmer Chris Norton, are changing their fertiliser management practices to prevent excess nutrients from entering the estuary. By focusing on the streams, creeks and rivers that flow into Oyster Harbour, the overall health of the estuary can be protected and improved.  

Chris shared how participating in the soil testing program offered through Healthy Estuaries WA has helped his farm reduce fertiliser use, with benefits for productivity and cost savings.

“We’ve been part of the program for nearly four years and now our fertiliser management program is working exceedingly well,” said Chris.

“Now we’ve got to the point where we are not putting phosphate on some paddocks where we’ve got enough. This is a big jump for a farmer that’s all his life just put on a bag of fertiliser which is the easiest way to do it.

“But nothing’s fallen over, we’re still getting very good production in our cattle and sheep, and the grass is growing well.”  

Farmer Chris Norton discussing his soil test results and fertiliser recommendations received through the Healthy Estuaries WA program.

Farmers like Chris have been working with Oyster Harbour Catchment Group, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation through Healthy Estuaries WA.  

The program supports farmers to make informed nutrient management decisions through regular events and accessible resources.     

In the urban setting, South Coast Natural Resource Management is working with partners including the City of Albany and the Minderoo Foundation to rehabilitate Yakamia Creek.  

In the past year, more than 56 local people have been involved in rehabilitating a site on the creek that flows into Oyster Harbour. They have planted 3,600 native seedlings following removal of invasive plants, site preparation and re-contouring along a 200 metre stretch of the creek. 

Minister McGurk with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Brett Ward and South Coast NRM’s Natalie Reeves and Johanna Tomlinson.

During the visit Minister McGurk saw how the revegetation was establishing at the Yakamia Creek site and experienced first-hand how to use soil testing equipment.  

Healthy Estuaries WA is a State Government program that works to improve the health of seven estuaries in south-west Western Australia. To learn more visit