Week 9: Information series for the State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report

Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability has highlighted the key themes from Victoria’s State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report, over the past eight weeks to shine a light on the health of our marine and coastal environments. 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.

Commissioner Dr Gillian Sparkes AM said, “This week for our final week of Victoria’s State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report information series, I’m delighted to highlight the report’s communities and stewardship themes, where we focus on activities undertaken by, and the liveability of, coastal communities.

I’m excited that we’re wrapping up the info series just as we enter National Science Week next week. Our scientists and citizen scientists play such an important role in caring for our marine and coastal environment”.

Aboriginal Victorians provide important traditional knowledge in marine and coastal management – to care, heal and protect our marine and coastal environment. Working together as a community, we can learn how to care for and improve Victoria’s marine and coastal environments for future generations.

Victoria is made up of many diverse communities, reliant upon healthy natural environments for their social wellbeing and economic prosperity. Caring for our marine and coastal environments through a range of activities not only fosters community appreciation of marine and coastal areas, but also protects and enhances Victoria's coastline.

Dr Sparkes explained, “We 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”.

The indicators assessed for community, and stewardship and collaborative management showed that people are empowered to change and have some level of connection to the coast.

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. Citizen scientists have been involved in marine and coastal programs, even during COVID-19 lockdowns when virtual projects enabled seal counts (via webcam) and other activities to continue”.

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.

The report 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. A healthy environment is essential to our social and economic needs. Yet, a healthy environment relies upon communities having social wellbeing and economic resources to contribute to good environmental outcomes. This independent scientific analysis includes an assessment against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Connecting people to marine and coastal environment health is important. A healthy environment is fundamental to our social and economic needs, human wellbeing and sustainable development.

The State of the Yarra 2018 Report was the first of our State of the Environment reports to include a chapter on Communities.

Dr Sparkes said, “Following the State of the Yarra report, the State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report includes a range of socioeconomic indicators coastal population growth, recreational fishing and boating, commercial fisheries and aquaculture”.

Key findings:

  • Coastal population growth: Recent rates of coastal population growth (1.6%) have been lower than for non-coastal areas (2.2%). However, population growth in coastal suburbs of Melbourne has been rapid. Coastal locations near Melbourne and Geelong (Bellarine Peninsula, Torquay) also had rapid growth.
  • Recreational fishing and boating: A recent study estimated that recreational fishing and boating in Victoria in 2018/19 generated 55,780 combined direct and indirect full-time equivalent jobs, including 25,058 direct jobs.
  • Commercial fisheries: While Victoria’s systems for managing commercial fisheries are generally effective, threats include overfishing, illegal/unreported fishing, introduction of pests, bycatch, and entanglements.
  • Aquaculture: Aquaculture is an increasingly important source of seafood in Victoria, for both the domestic and export markets. The main species farmed in Victorian coastal waters are abalone and blue mussels.

Stewardship and collaborative management

Environmental stewardship refers to an ethic of taking care of the natural environment. The report explores broad participation in stewardship activities – from the local level, through to Victorian Government legislative and policy frameworks. Participants involved in stewardship activities at the community level this includes Traditional Owners caring for Country, farmers and other land managers, fishers and others who rely on marine industries, and various volunteer groups involved in environmental protection. Government departments and agencies are also involved in stewardship activities through funding, policy making and program management.

Key findings:

  • Volunteers are helping to protect and improve marine and coastal environments. However, less than 6% of Australian volunteers are involved in environmental activities.
  • 42% of respondents to a 2018 survey were interested in joining a coastal volunteer group, while 39% indicated willingness to contribute financially to improve coastal management.
  • Coastcare activities include revegetating coastal areas, building boardwalks and tracks, fencing, monitoring native shorebirds and animals, presenting educational and awareness-raising sessions, planting, landscaping and protecting cultural sites. 13,444 people participated in in 2019-20, an increase from 10,500 the previous financial year.
  • The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has developed a Marine and Coastal Stewardship Index. Benchmark data is being collected for Port Phillip Bay and could provide a model for future reporting.

Get involved!

Here are some ways you can care for Victoria’s marine and coastal environment:

Inspiring stories from our coastal communities

Dive into our case studies which explore coastal communities and stewardship:

Type: Campaign
Category: Climate change
Tags: Environment