Monitoring and science

Monitoring boat

On-going monitoring is essential to guage the health of the Derwent and effectively manage its natural resources.

The Derwent Estuary Monitoring Agreement provides the basis for obtaining such data. The first was signed in August 2000 by the state government, six local councils and three commercial partners (Norske Skog Boyer, Nyrstar Hobart Smelter and Hobart Water). In 2004 Tasmanian Ports Corporation also joined the program.

To provide better information on the estuary as a whole, the signatories agreed to coordinate their independent monitoring programs. In addition, they agreed to report annually on environmental conditions and trends in the Derwent.

The Derwent Estuary Program and its partners have carried out the following monitoring and science:

  • Recreational water quality testing during summer months (weekly)
  • Whole-of-estuary water quality monitoring (monthly)
  • Stormwater outfalls and rivulet monitoring (monthly)
  • Seagrass beds surveys
  • Mercury levels in flathead and heavy metals levels in shellfish (annually)
  • Survey of the values of the Murphys Flat wetland
  • Surveys and mapping of foreshore vegetation
  • Survey of little penguin annual breeding numbers and breeding success
  • Survey of spotted handfish distribution, abundance, and improvements to habitat
  • Survey of weeds including rice grass and karamu (annually)

A summary of the monitoring data is published annually in an annual report card. More detailed information is made available in five-yearly State of the Derwent Estuary reports.

Juvenile Spotted Handfish (Brachionichyths hirsutus)

Restoring and promoting the Derwent estuary