The Region’s marine and coastal area falls within two Integrated Marine and Coastal Regionalisation of Australia (IMCRA) bio-regions: Central West Coast (Perth to Kalbarri) and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste (Perth to Black Head). The coastal and marine zones and their protection status are presented in Figure 10.
Much of the marine biodiversity is unique to the Region, due to the mixing of southern temperate waters with the warm tropical water of the Leeuwin Current which flows from the north. The south west coast of Western Australia has been ranked as the second most diverse marine environment in terms of tropical reef endemism in the world and is also home to extensive seagrass meadows that act as major nursery areas for fish species and the western rock lobster.
In 2012, the value of the fishing industry along the south west coast was estimated to be $8 million (Fletcher and Santoro 2013). Key industries in the Region include mussel farming in southern Cockburn Sound and the commercial western rock lobster fishery, which is Australia’s most valuable single-species wild capture fishery. In terms of recreational fishing, the south west coast is the most heavily used of any other region across Western Australia (Fletcher and Santoro 2013).
The Swan Region’s coastline is characterised by long sandy beaches, with occasional rocky cliffs and headlands (Department of Planning 2008). The Region’s coastal dunes provide important habitat for coastal plant communities and fauna. Offshore islands such as Rottnest, Garden and Carnac provide vital breeding habitat for migratory birds and refuges for small mammals such as the Rottnest Island Quokka (Setonix brachyurus) and the Tammar Wallaby (Macropus eugenii).
A major threat to Perth’s coastal environment has been the extensive clearing of vegetation to make way for a growing population and developing industries (Environmental Protection Authority 2007). Other threats include uncontrolled pedestrian access, littering and the introduction of exotic plants and animals (rabbits, foxes, cats). In addition, climate change is predicted to have a significant impact on coastal settlements, infrastructure and ecosystems through sea level rise and an increasing frequency and severity of storm surge (Department of the Environment 2014).