NEWS 3 September 2021 |

Victoria’s beautiful beaches and ocean might not be within reach to all of us at the moment, but they’re definitely on our mind. And, after reading this, hopefully they’ll be on yours too. Why? The state government has just released their draft Marine and Coastal Strategy.

We’ve worked for years to guide and pressure policy-makers to better protect Victoria’s marine and coastal environment with a more ambitious, evidenced-based and comprehensive approach.

This work culminated in the creation of the Marine and Coastal Policy. The strategy, now out for public comment, explains how to achieve that Policy. If done well, it will bring to life the vision of a “healthy, dynamic and biodiverse marine and coastal environment that is valued in its own right, and that benefits the Victorian community, now and in the future”.

Essentially the strategy is where the wind hits the sails, so it’s crucial that we make sure it sets up our marine and coastal environments for success. Public submissions are now open until Friday 10 September.

The draft strategy has strengths and weaknesses. To expand on these issues, we’ve put together ‘The big 5 guide: 5 gaps, 5 improvements, 5 strengths’ to help you use your voice to make a submission for our seas and shores.

These watery worlds are truly places of wonder. They are home to all kinds of weird and wonderful wildlife. They act as carbon sponges. They protect our way of life on land, and are good for the health of our minds, bodies and souls. They deserve and need to have a solid plan to protect them.

Overall, the draft strategy is moving in the right direction. We’re pleased to see it include a central focus on Traditional Owner rights and obligations, and climate adaptation and response – but it falls short in many critical aspects.

It desperately needs more ambition, insight and strength – qualities our seas and shores offer in abundance when we spend time in, on or under them.

Significant issues in the draft strategy include:

• Lack of focus on the broader marine environment
• Lack of ambition for the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPA)
• Missing actions relating to industry and recreational uses, including fishing, oil and gas extraction and tourism
• Neglects actions for threatened species and managing marine invasive species

Submissions to the Draft Marine and Coastal Strategy don’t have to be long or complicated. They can be done with a short survey or a brief letter based on your own experience, opinions and/or the ‘big five guide’.

We invite everyone who has spent time in our seascapes to contribute, so we can continue to enjoy these beautiful environments into the future.