The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, also known as the Ramsar Convention, is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
Signed in 1971, the convention recognises that wetlands are a critial part of our environment and aims to halt their worldwide loss through sustainable management. Australia is a member country of the Convention.
There are 64 Ramsar wetland sites across Australia and the Port Phillip and Western Port region is home to three Ramar-listed wetlands – Port Phillip Bay (western shoreline), Western Port, which are the focus of the Ramsar Protection Program, and the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands, which is managed Melbourne Water.
The Western Port Ramsar wetland site is located along the coastal fringe of Western Port, from Point Leo to Phillip Island. It takes in a number of islands, including Quail and Churchill islands.
The site is more than 59,000 hectares and has a wide variety of habitat types including deep channels, seagrass beds, mudflats, extensive mangrove thickets and saltmarsh vegetation.
Port Phillip Bay (western shoreline)
The Port Phillip Bay Ramsar site is located along the western shoreline of Port Phillip Bay and extends to the Bellarine Peninsula and into southern Port Phillip at Mud Islands.
The site is more than 22,000 hectares, taking in the wetlands near Altona and Werribee, through the Western Treatment Plant and along the shoreline of the bay to Lake Connewarre, south of Geelong.
The current program concentrates on the habitats above the low tide mark from saltmarsh and mangroves to the fringing woodlands.