Building resilient urban ports and harbours through globally integrated research and management


Initiated by the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS), the aim of the World Harbour Project is to link, facilitate, and enhance programs of research and management across major urban harbours of the world.



Water and Sediment Quality

As a result of residential and industrial development, harbour waters and sediments, often become enriched with nutrients and subject to sedimentation and elevated loads of pollutants, such as particulate matter, heavy metals, metalloids and organic contaminants. This workgroup aims to comprehend and compare how these stressors impinge upon the natural, social and economic resources of harbours and pursue effective strategies for the management of water and sediment quality issues.

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Multiple Uses and Users

Harbour users seek access to the common pool of natural resources of the sea and land for different reasons and this can lead to conflicts. Harbours and ports may have stakeholders from local and national governments, national and international industries plus the community. Some examples of the multiple uses of harbours are: transport –shipping of cargo, passenger ferries and cruise liners; industry – development of commercial properties and extraction/utilisation of resources; residential development; commercial and recreational fishing; other recreation activities such as boating and beach going, and cultural activities such as festivals, social gatherings and indigenous links to country.

Research on conflicts between multiple users of coastal resources is in general in its infancy, while research on harbours and their conflicts is almost entirely lacking. This workgroup aims to address this gap in knowledge.

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Green Engineering

As coasts become more urbanised, and foreshores and waterways are developed for residential and industrial purposes, coastal environments are gradually being built over. Natural habitats that support complex assemblages of native flora and fauna are being lost at a rapid rate. The concrete and metal structures built in their stead are often inhospitable to recolonisation by displaced native species. Harbours and ports are extreme examples, with many having lost much of the original habitats, such as rocky reef, that supported native biota.

As on land, attention is turning to green engineering techniques to restore natural communities to marine artificial structures within the coastal environment. Efforts are being made to design structures that support rather than degrade their surrounding ecosystems, that incorporate multiple functions and that preserve vital ecosystem services, including the provision of habitats hospitable to native species.

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The WHP, through its USA partners, has strong links to the New York Harbour High School’s Billion Oyster project and the US-Australia Virtual Environmental Partnership. Furthermore, the New York University, Abu Dhabi, has state of the art infrastructure for online and remote learning through its Marine Biology Lab. The WHP also has a strong foundation in postgraduate teaching opportunities via its Spanish partner ‘Campus do Mar’ in Vigo, an International Campus of Excellence in marine science. The aim of this workgroup is to strengthen these links with further partnerships in urban coastal stewardship to train young scientists and reach out to harbour users, both public and private.

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Latest News

Bio Shelters Workshop

Edwina Tanner
October 18, 2016

More News Articles

Latest Events

  • 2nd WHP Global Partners Workshop

    26/09/2017 to 28/09/2017

    The 2nd World Harbour Global Partners Meeting will be hosted by Xiamen University.

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  • AMSA 2017

    03/07/2017 to 04/07/2017

    AMSA 2017 in Darwin World Harbour Project Session S3: Building resilient urban ports and harbours through globally integrated research and management.

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  • International Workshop on Eco-shoreline Designs

    16/11/2016 to 16/11/2016

    International Workshop on Eco-shoreline Designs for Sustainable Coastal Development The School of Biological Sciences, based at the University of Hong Kong, is hosting an international workshop, featuring WHP Partner, Dr Shimrit Perkel-Finkel (Workgroup 2: Green Engineering). Other panellists are Dr Jon K. Miller, Prof. Brian Morton and Dr. Peter Alan Todd.

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  • Bio Shelters – Designing reef habitats at the Sydney Harbour

    26/09/2016 to 03/10/2016

    The World Harbour Project, along with UNSW, University of Newcastle, and the Reef Design Lab, will be holding a free workshop from 26 Sept – 3 Oct which aims to bring together 15-20 students to work with a team of interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners on providing a habitat for Sydney harbour organisms. The workshop is

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  • ECSA 56 Coastal systems in transition

    04/09/2016 to 07/09/2016

    Managing harbours as complex social-ecological systems Interested in socio-ecological systems? The World Harbour Project (WHP) team has organised a session on ‘Managing harbours as complex social-ecological systems’ at ECSA 56, 4-7 September, Bremen. The session welcomes papers that focus on the impacts that result from multiple uses of harbours, the tension between competing social, economic,

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  • Asia Oceania Geosciences Society, 13th Annual Meeting

    31/07/2016 to 05/08/2016

    Hydrodynamics Session: The WHP is hosting a session on hydrodynamics at the 13th AOGS Annual Meeting will be held 31 July to 5 August in Beijing. Dr Moninya Roughan (UNSW), Professor Hua Wang (ADFA), Professor Qing He (Est China Normal University) and Dr Pavel Tkalich (National University of Singapore) are convening a session on ‘Hydrodynamics,

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  • EuroMarine and WHP joint workshop

    04/05/2016 to 06/05/2016

    EuroMarine and World Harbour Project joint workshop Developing ecosystem-based solutions for resilient European harbours and coastal waterfronts (ECORES)

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  • International Coastal Symposium 2016

    06/03/2016 to 11/03/2016

    Sediment contamination in world harbours: a reflection of social-economic development? Poster Presentation: Joanne Banks, John (Jung-Ho) Lee, Gavin Birch Working Group 1 of the World Harbour Project is investigating contaminant enrichment and biological risk in global harbour sediments (Sydney, Hobart, Darwin, Auckland, Hong Kong, Ravenna, Vigo, Plymouth, Crete, NewYork). This comparative approach will act as a

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  • Manchester Workshop


    About The Event: The Sydney Institute of Marine Science hosted the second World Harbour Project workshop in Manchester (UK) to introduce the European partners and learn about their harbours. The workshop brought attendees up to date on the four working groups and agreed on contributions and deliverables over the coming months.

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  • International Workshop

    11/11/2014 to 13/11/2014

    About The Event: The inaugural meeting of the World Harbour Project partners was hosted by The Sydney Institute of Marine Science. Fourteen partners were in attendance, introducing their harbours and their research priorities. Discussions focused around the four workgroups, with delegates aligned according to skills and specific interests.

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