Fremantle Fairy Terns

Fremantle Ports fairy tern sanctuary at Rous Head has been recognised by PIANC, the World Association for Waterborne

Transport Infrastructure.

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Port Environmental Advisor Adam van der Beeke at the fairy tern sanctuary with the Working with Nature Certificate of Recognition

Fremantle Ports’ Rous Head Industrial Park fairy tern sanctuary has been recognised internationally.

PIANC, the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, has given the fairy tern sanctuary an official Working with Nature Certificate of Recognition.

Fremantle is the first Australian port to receive PIANC Working with Nature accreditation.

The fairy tern sanctuary project is now in the running for the Working with Nature Award 2018 which will be announced during the 34th PIANC Work Congress in Panama City from 7-11 May.

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A fairy tern watches over its egg at the Rous Head sanctuary in January 2018 


Fremantle Ports’ breeding sanctuary for fairy terns was the largest and most successful breeding colony of fairy terns in the Perth metropolitan area.

The breeding sanctuary is making a strong contribution to the conservation of these vulnerable little birds in Western Australia.

The number of breeding pairs has grown significantly since the sanctuary at Rous Head was established by Fremantle Ports in 2012 (see graph below).

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The protected site is located on port land adjacent to the southern end of Port Beach.
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Fairy terns and chicks at the sanctuary in January 2018

Fremantle Ports used sandy material dredged in the Inner Harbour deepening of 2010 to create the breeding conditions favoured by the fairy terns. The site was replenished with shelly sand before the last breeding season.

The birds make their nests in a scrape in shelly sand and lay one to two speckled eggs. 

Fremantle Ports is continuing to work closely with the Conservation Council to monitor the success of the sanctuary.

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Banding a fairy tern (Photo: Simon Blears)


The chicks on site in January were banded as part of CCWA’s Fairy Tern Network Monitoring Program to understand more about fairy tern movements, relationships and population health.

Funding provided by Fremantle Ports has supported the setting up of the Fairy Tern Network, including a social media platform to encourage and coordinate community involvement.

The fairy tern breeding sanctuary at Rous Head is fenced to protect the nesting colony from intrusion and to prevent the chicks from straying onto the adjacent pedestrian and cycle pathway.

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