Program: Rivers and Estuaries Science

Status: Active 

About the research project

The Swan Canning Estuary is home to diverse faunal assemblages, productive seagrass and macroalgal communities and is a focus for many water-based activities, including recreational fishing.  

The estuary is situated wholly in the Perth metropolitan region and drains a large agricultural catchment. As a result, it faces many anthropogenic stressors including flow reduction, excessive nutrient input, and contaminant loading associated with a range of contemporary and historical land uses.  

Ensuring environmental and social values are maintained requires an understanding of threats. In particular, it is vital to understand the extent, distribution, and potential impact of both novel and legacy contaminants, evaluate risk to the ecosystem and human health and improve approaches to management.  

Management outcomes

This project has and continues to provide information on the distribution and concentration of non-nutrient contaminants in the estuary. It focuses on monitoring of sediment quality and investigations and research into new contaminant threats.  

This information is used to identify any changes in sediment contaminant concentrations and highlight management need, additionally, the potential for environmental risk and can also be used to provide evidence of any human health risks where relevant.  

Recent projects have been completed on PFAS contaminants in surface water and biota, other contaminants in western school prawn and black bream, and monitoring of sediment quality.  


Three major reports have now been produced on this work and are available below.  

It is expected that monitoring of sediment quality will continue on a decadal time interval. Spin-off projects on the prevalence of plastic pollution within the Swan Canning estuary are now being undertaken. 

Project team

Dr Peter Novak  Dr Steeg Hoeksema  Dr Kerry Trayler  
Environmental Officer, Rivers and Estuaries Science Senior Environmental Officer, Rivers and Estuaries Science Principal Scientist, Rivers and Estuaries Science  





Dr Peter Novak  

Environmental Officer  

Related projects

  • EXT-2020-032. Swan Canning Estuary microplastics and plastics survey 

  • STP-2022-005. Plastic pollution in urban drains 

  • STP-2022-006. Microplastic distribution, sources, ingestion and health impacts in urban estuarine environments