The coastal areas of Port Phillip and Western Port Bay provide substantial economic value, particularly in and around Melbourne. Both bays support commercial fisheries and are home to operating ports of international significance. The region’s excellent coastal amenity, recreation and tourism operations depend on natural coastal assets such as beaches, biodiversity, water quality and aesthetic values.
The Port Phillip & Western Port region has over 600 km of coastline, but it is under increasing pressure, particularly from urban development and recreation use. The region contains significant estuaries including the entrances of Kororoit, Skeleton and Laverton Creeks and Yarra, Werribee, Patterson and Maribyrnong Rivers. It also has two renowned bays and eight marine protected areas.
The Port Phillip and Westernport CMA works in partnership with the Central Coastal Board and other agencies to protect and rehabilitate coastal areas under threat from erosion, vegetation loss, oil spills, inundation, inappropriate development and discharge of stormwater and sewerage effluent. CoastCare/Coast Action facilitators also operate in this region, working with community groups who are implementing coastal management and protection projects.
There are many threats to the region’s coastal and marine environments. Algal blooms from increased nutrient loading, toxicant inputs which affect many species and ecological communities, sediments due to land clearing and increased runoff, exotic marine pests, litter, pest plants and animals, loss of habitat and native vegetation and threats from development are real concern to the health of our coasts.
The high demand for coastal living and recreation opportunities, and the resulting scale of development and use, threatens the ability of some coastal systems to adapt and respond. There is increasing pressure for residential, access, boating, car parking, tourism and uses in highly sensitive coastal settings.
Development poses particular threats to landscape, biodiversity and amenity values. Inappropriate development also impacts on other values such as water quality, notably through stormwater and urban run-off. Inappropriate access by vehicle and pedestrian traffic also threatens many coastal values. Impacts include erosion, degraded habitat and displacement of the associated native animal species.
Climate change predictions suggest a rise in sea levels, which will threaten many coastal values in low-lying areas including infrastructure, remnants of indigenous habitat and recreational amenity through increased erosion. Impacts from storm surges and increased intensity and/or frequency of storm events may also be a concern.