For more than 40 years there has been talk about reforming marine and coastal planning and management in Victoria.
More than 16 statutes and plenty of policies, strategies and plans have created a complex and fragmented marine and coastal planning framework. This approach:
- provides no clear vision for the integration of marine and coastal planning, protection and management
- creates duplication across marine and coastal agencies
- leads to objectives and outcomes at cross purposes
- creates visions limited to the narrow agendas of individual agencies or industry sectors
- undermines ecologically sustainable development and ecosystem-based management.
The Andrews Government’s commitment to a Marine and Coastal Act indicates it too sees the need for reform.
But the delivery of that commitment began badly when it excluded commercial fishing and ports from the agenda. And its 2016 discussion paper summarily dismissed the option of a marine and coastal authority.
VNPA believes that the marine and coastal act should establish a marine and coastal authority to ensure:
- ecologically sustainable use of marine ad coastal environments
- integrated and ecosystem-based marine and coastal planning, protection and management
- effective and meaningful community and Traditional Owner engagement
- increased knowledge and understanding of Victoria’s marine and coastal environments.
- increased security of access and certainty of process for marine-based and coast-based industries.
The great risk is that the Andrews Government won’t take this opportunity to significantly reform Victoria’s marine and coastal planning, instead simply tinkering at the edges. If so, we will continue to have bad marine and coastal planning and management outcomes.