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Victoria’s marine and coastal environments are special and unique – and essential for life. In the face of both existing and emerging threats such as climate change, pollution, and increasing pressures from commercial and recreational activities, it is essential we plan and manage them well.
Right now, the Department of Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is leading a process to improve the planning and management of our marine and coastal environment. It began with the finalisation of the new Marine and Coastal Act 2018. It now requires the development of a Marine and Coastal Policy, a draft of which has been released for public comment.
This draft Marine and Coastal Policy document builds on a number of previous policies and strategies, and while we see it as a good start, it has significant gaps. We must address those gaps before it is finalised.
Strengths of the draft policy include:
- The banning of damaging new residential canal estates.
- Recognition of the need to monitor and manage the health of our marine national parks and sanctuaries (this needs strengthening to complete our marine conservation estate).
- Policies on what should be allowed to be built on our beaches and foreshores.
Gaps in the draft policy:
- It essentially does not address fisheries, ports, and shipping, which have major impacts on the marine environment.
- It also is light on detail on the protection of internationally-significant Ramsar wetlands, critical as safe havens for migratory and shorebirds.
- The marine planning section is very weak and in its current form will lead to ‘paper only’ plans with little real impact.
The policy, when finalised and tabled in State Parliament, will be a key document guiding decision-makers, including local councils and land managers, in the planning, management and sustainable use of our marine and coastal environment for the next 10–15 years.
It is critical we are vocal in support of the draft policy’s strengths while seeking improvement to its gaps.
It is important DELWP knows your views to ensure that the final Marine and Coastal Policy reflects the communities and stakeholder views on how Victoria’s marine and coastal environments should be planned for and managed.
You can have your say by 15 August on the draft policy by responding to an online survey or by uploading a submission on the state government’s website: engage.vic.gov.au/draft-marine-and-coastal-policy
We have prepared briefing materials to help you respond to the current community consultation. If writing your own submission, you are welcome to use our detailed Issues Paper here with key messages on strengths and gaps in the policy. If you prefer to answer a series of questions in an online survey, we have created a Guide with suggested responses here.