THE release of a State of the Bays report is regarded as a “critical first step in securing the good health of our marine environments”, according to the Victorian National Parks Association.
“Port Phillip and Western Port are under increasing pressure as the populations of Melbourne, Geelong and the bays’ catchments continue to grow,” the association’s marine and coastal campaigner Chris Smyth said.
“As a result, urban and industrial development, climate change, introduced marine pests, fishing and shipping will continue to threaten the health of the bays.”
The report studied the health of both waterways, providing a stocktake of the current knowledge of ecosystems, habitats and species. It also analysed water quality, seagrass and fish species.
Victorian Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the report was a “critical piece of work to help us better understand the challenges we face in protecting our bays in the face of a changing climate”.
“It found that water quality was generally good across most indicators and, despite their proximity to major urban centres and significant development catchments, both Port Phillip Bay and Western Port have healthy marine ecosystems.”
Mr Smyth said by synthesising the available scientific data and identifying key environmental issues, health indicators and knowledge gaps, the report would, hopefully, motivate decision makers to do the right thing by our bays.
“Successive governments have failed to establish a comprehensive and integrated research and monitoring regime for Victoria’s marine environments,” he said.
“This report is a wake-up call – the time to do it is now.”