Dr Gillian Sparkes AM, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability released the inaugural State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report for Victoria today.
Dr Sparkes joined Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio as she officially opened the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority's new headquarters in Torquay.
"The State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report will provide up to date information on the coast, to improve the region’s special coastal environment. It’s important to get the facts on the table - it’s a litmus test. I know the authority is looking forward to working with the Commissioner.”
This Report is prepared according to Victoria’s landmark Marine and Coastal Act 2018, which commits the Commissioner to issuing a five-yearly State of the Marine and Coastal Environment Report. The Commissioner’s report released today is the first under the Act and builds on the 2016 State of the Bays Report.
Dr Sparkes stated “I am pleased to deliver the inaugural State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report."
This report shines a light on the health of our marine and coastal environments to inform investment in marine and coastal science. It reinforces the need for a catchment to reefs approach to our policy and program interventions to protect and improve Victoria’s coastal and marine environments.
The Report outlines that many of the pressures on our coasts, bays, estuaries, lakes and ocean are from our activities on land. A continued focus on management and actions that link activities in our catchments to benefits for Victoria’s marine and coastal environment is critical. As is the need for strong action to mitigate, adapt and protect our marine and coastal environments and communities from the impacts of climate change.
Based on existing marine and coastal science, this historic baseline study reports on the health of five Victorian marine and coastal environments: Port Phillip Bay, Western Port, Corner Inlet and Nooramunga, Gippsland Lakes and Victoria's System of Marine National Parks and Sanctuaries.
The Report presents 215 assessments of 82 indicators of ecosystem health and social science.
It informs our continued investment in marine and coastal science through initiatives such as the Marine and Coastal Knowledge Framework and Marine Spatial Planning Framework.
Dr Sparkes states “Five future priorities are proposed for marine and coastal management and reporting, a high priority is to optimise the possibilities of spatial information to identify and protect Victoria's marine assets.”
We also assessed activities undertaken by Victorian coastal communities and the liveability of those communities, as well as environmental stewardship. Many volunteer groups contribute to protecting, conserving and improving marine and coastal environment. At the community level this includes Traditional Owners caring for Country, farmers, fishers and others who rely on marine industries, and various volunteer groups involved in environmental protection.
Dr Sparkes said “I am encouraged by the promising statistics we report regarding the engagement of community members in coastal and marine volunteering, Coastcare and citizen science activities. During 2019-20 a total of 13,444 people participated in Coastcare activities, a 28% increase on the previous year - and citizen scientists remained actively involved in marine and coastal protection.”
This independent scientific analysis includes an assessment against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report release is proudly recognised as an action as part of the United Nations Decade For Ocean Sciences (2021-2030), this is one very important decade ahead.
To access the Report and visit the interpretive website visit www.ces.vic.gov.au/smce-2021.