In August 2019, Trade-a-Boat reported the release of the Victorian Government’s Draft Marine and Coastal Policy for public comment. More than 200 submissions were made from a wide cross-section of the Victorian community, voicing strong support for the need to protect the marine and coastal environment for current and future generations.
There were calls for greater recognition of internationally significant locations, such as Ramsar sites, and for efforts to protect broader environmental values. Communities and user groups raised concerns about ongoing access to coastal amenities and sought recognition of existing uses. There was also widespread acceptance that climate change poses a threat to Victoria’s marine and coastal environment and that more needs to be done to reduce its impacts.
Local governments requested greater direction and clarity on climate change adaptation. They also wanted strong strategic planning in managing use and development and flexibility in suitable development opportunities.
After taking on board community feedback, and “the latest science”, the new Marine and Coastal Policy was released in March 2020. The Policy presents “a modern and balanced framework”, with a strengthened strategic approach to planning to ensure appropriate use and development, while at the same time protecting environmental values.
In order to render ecosystems, communities, industries and built assets “as resilient as they can be in the face of future challenges such as natural hazards, climate change and population growth”, this strategy is embedded in the Policy as a core component, and adaptation actions must be considered in all planning.
In launching the new Policy, Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said, “This is a great outcome for the environment and builds on our work already underway to protect marine wildlife and promote conservation.”
Articulating the underlying rationale for the Policy, Ms D’Ambrosio said, “The Policy reflects a drive to deliver lasting benefits to the marine and coastal environment in its own right, as well as to the millions of Victorians who enjoy its rich beauty and opportunities for recreation, and who prosper from the huge economic value it delivers to the state every year.”
A Marine and Coastal Strategy will be developed in 2020. The Strategy will detail priority actions to achieve the Policy’s directions and will be accompanied by an implementation and evaluation plan.
For a full copy of the Policy go to: marineandcoasts.vic.gov.au/coastal-management/marine-and-coastal-policy.