Public Policy context

This State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report is the first in Victoria's series of state of environment reports in the 2020-2024 reporting cycle.

It is a transitional report, updating the State of the Bays 2016 Report and increasing the scope in preparation for the first full State of the Marine and Coastal Environment Report due in 2024.

A range of state, national and international public policies underpin the State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report.


On 1 August 2018, the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 came into effect. It aims to protect Victoria's marine and coastal environment now and into the future. The Act outlines objectives for planning and managing marine and coastal environments in Victoria.

The Act envisages preparation of a State of the Marine and Coastal Environment Report. It also enables other actions such as a Marine and Coastal Policy, Marine Spatial Planning Framework, and Marine and Coastal Strategy.

In 2021, the Environment Protection Act 2017 came into effect. Environment Protection Regulations and the Environment Reference Standard (ERS) support this Act. The ERS is a new tool identifying environmental values that Victorians want to achieve and maintain. It enables assessment of these values across Victoria.

In 2021, Victoria’s Climate Change Strategy was released. It is a roadmap to net-zero emissions and a climate resilient Victoria by 2050. It will support communities and businesses to reduce the impacts of climate change and continue to support our economy to grow.

The Invasive Plants and Animals Policy Framework is the Victorian Government's approach to managing invasive species. It outlines management actions for each invasive plant and animal group.


National policies, strategies, plans and laws relevant to the report include:

The report also engages with policies and strategies focused on invasive marine species, including:


The report is also supported by key international frameworks.

In 2010, the parties to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity met in Aichi, Japan. Here, they committed to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. This set five strategic goals and 20 targets for countries to slow and reverse biodiversity loss during the UN Decade on Biodiversity.

In 2015, the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It includes 17 goals with 169 targets. You can read about Victoria’s progress towards a selection of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets in Part 2 of the Report.

The Ramsar Convention aims to halt the loss of wetlands and conserve those that remain. Victoria has 12 wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance, including the Gippsland Lakes. Seven sub-chapters within the Report include a focus on the Gippsland Lakes.

Further information

The indicator assessment narratives in Part 3 of the Report provides more detail on polices and their links to environmental condition and management of marine and coastal environments.

Dolphins in Port Phillip Bay
Image credit - Parks Victoria