The Mirror News

Our coast under threat

FOR the sake of our coastline’s health, any further commercial development within Wilsons Promontory National Park should be prohibited and any further expansion of Port Anthony rejected.

Those are some of the recommendations of a new report out this week.‘The Coast is Unclear’ was commissioned by the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) to generate public discussion on improving the conservation of coastal nature and reform of Victoria’s coastal planning, protection and management framework, and to provide input into the new Victorian Coastal Strategy.

Written by environmental consultant Chris Smyth, the report documents coastal planning and management issues along the length of Victoria’s coastline. It finds that successive state governments have contributed to the creation of a complex, disintegrated and ineffective coastal planning and management framework that has been unable to stop the squeeze on coastal nature.

The report maintains that along with climate change, coastal, urban, port and industrial development driven by rapid population growth are eroding what we love about our coasts.

It finds that of the 95 habitats found within 500 metres of the shoreline, more than 70 per cent are either endangered or vulnerable, including Coast Banksia Woodland and Estuarine Wetland.

Threatened coastal habitats have become fragmented and vulnerable to pressures such as invasive plants (e.g. Spartina in Anderson and Corner Inlets) and animals, grazing, intensification of land use in adjacent rural areas (the report cites behind Cape Liptrap Coastal Park) and altered coastal processes (e.g. levee banks on edges of Anderson Inlet and Corner Inlet). Specifically in South Gippsland, the report warns of visitation pressure on beach-nesting seabirds e.g. hooded plover, and asserts that pipi harvesting at Venus Bay is unsustainable.

It recommends amending the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park management plan to ban pipi harvesting from the Venus Bay section, and committing “adequate resources” to the scientific research of pipi harvesting and its wider ecological impacts within the park. It also recommends merging Corner Inlet Marine and Coastal Park, Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park, Nooramunga Flora and Fauna Reserve, coastal crown land of conservation value along the margins of Corner Inlet, Wilsons Promontory Marine Park and WP Marine Reserve to form one big Corner Inlet-Nooramunga Coastal Park.

‘The Coast is Unclear’ calls for strong and comprehensive polices from all political parties ahead of this year’s state election in order to avoid the impacts of a new wave of development washing over Victoria’s 2000km coastline.

“Victorians love their rugged coastlines and seaside towns but the very landscapes that make summer holidays in this state so special are being transformed by development encouraged and approved by successive state governments,” VNPA marine spokesperson Simon Branigan said.”

The rate of coastal urban sprawl over the past 20 years is alarming. We now face new pressures such as major port expansions at Westernport and Port Anthony, a breakwater at Mallacoota’s Bastion Point, the spread of coastal towns, and the opening up of national parks along the coast to large-scale commercial tourism developers.”Clearly we need a new vision and comprehensive coastal policy that protects Victoria’s remaining coastal nature and ensures we do not love our coastline to death.”

The full report, ‘The Coast is Unclear,’ can be downloaded from the Victorian National Parks Association website.


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