The launch of 2016 State of the Bays report gave Victoria its first ‘health check’ for the iconic Port Phillip Bay and Western Port.
Environmental science and policy-making is a dynamic field. When launching the State of the Bays 2016 report, the Commissioner was mindful of key studies (listed below) that commenced in 2017 which further our understanding of, and improve management responses to the bays.
To capture these initiatives in policy and research, the Commissioner committed to producing an update to the State of the Bays as a one-off, out-of-cycle supplementary report. The update to the State of the Bays 2016 report, which has now been released on our website, www.stateofthebays.vic.gov.au incorporates information and analysis using recently released studies including:
- the Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan 2017-2027 (EMP) that seeks to improve stewardship of the bay, improve water quality and protect marine biodiversity
- a CSIRO project that provides a scientific process for identifying and prioritising ecological indicators for future bays reporting
- the Western Port Environmental Research Program that highlights recent findings in water clarity
- release of Review of Key Victorian Fish Stocks 2017 confirms sand flathead’s decline in Port Phillip Bay (highlighted in the 2016 report)
- a new approach for classifying and mapping marine habitats, and the application of marine habitat biotopes as indicators for assessing health and condition
- a susceptibility assessment of the coastal zone of both bays, as part of a state-wide project, to model erosion and inundation impacts under present day and future climate change scenarios to inform the prioritisation of coastal monitoring, and
- the awarding of grants to projects from the $10 million Port Phillip Bay Fund: the priorities identified in the 2016 State of the Bays report have assisted these investment choices.
The Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Gillian Sparkes has provided recommendations in the update which add further weight to the growing momentum to monitor, improve and sustain the environmental health of Port Phillip Bay and Western Port.
In addressing areas of concern, this update also takes the opportunity to revisit key indicators in the 2016 State of the Bays that were assessed as being ‘poor’ including:
- overabundance of sea urchins in the subtidal reefs of Port Phillip Bay north
- sand flathead numbers in Port Phillip Bay, and
- water clarity in Western Port.
The full update to the report can be found here.