Marine environments

DRAFT

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I’d like to be, under the sea, in an octopus’s garden

Victoria’s coastal and marine areas have significant environmental values. They are highly valued by communities and are central to the way we live, travel, holiday and work. This is especially true for the marine environments of this region featuring Port Phillip Bay and Western Port.

Port Phillip Bay has 135 beaches and 50 million plus visitors annually, The Bay is treasured by Victorians and visitors. It is an access point to Melbourne’s ports, popular for fishing, sailing and swimming and is home to precious and unique flora and fauna. The coastal and marine environments support recreational and commercial activities. Its rocky reefs, sandy shorelines, foreshore reserves and rugged cliffs provide habitat and amenity, as well as protection for private and public coastal assets.

Western Port is a natural wonder with outstanding biodiversity founded on a mosaic of marine, intertidal, coastal, wetland and island environments. Western Port is a Ramsar-listed site – a wetland of international importance – and its shores are fringed by some of the world’s most southerly mangrove forests, vast intertidal mudflats, Victoria’s largest saltmarshes and sandy beaches. Beneath the water, seagrass meadows grow across Western Port’s northern and western arms around French Island. They provide critical habitat and energy for fish and the invertebrates they live on. Birdwatchers and scientists have counted 115 species of waterbirds, waders and seabirds.

Thousands of Victorians make significant contributions to protecting and improving the health and values of the marine environment. They include volunteers, Committees of Management, Coastcare groups, conservation management networks, friends’ groups, boating and fishing user groups, industry groups, management agencies, and local and state governments

An important focus of the Victorian Government is to guide and support those organisations and volunteers to manage the health of the marine and coastal environment so that ecosystems, communities and built assets are as resilient as they can be in the face of future changes including natural hazards, climate change, population growth or, most likely, a combination of these factors.