Integrating catchment, coastal and marine management – the prime focus of Victoria’s new Act

Dr Geoffrey Wescott1

1Deaakin University, Melbourne, Australia


In 2014 the Victorian Opposition Labor Party committed itself, if elected, to producing a “new Marine and Coastal Act”.

Victoria coastal planning and management was then governed by the Coastal Management Act 1995.  Victoria has been relatively well served by this Act, e.g. by four Victorian Coastal Strategies. Yet a twenty-two-year-old Act, with only one amendment in that time needed revisiting.

Hence in June 2015 the now Labor Government commenced the review under the auspices of an Expert Panel assisted by a working group in the environment department.

After the production of a Consultation Paper (August 2016), feedback from a Community Reference Group and public meetings along the Victorian coast the Panel’s recommendations were given to the new Minster in December 2016.

A Marine and Coastal Bill is expected to be tabled in parliament in  December 2017 or autumn 2018.

This paper will describe and discuss the that Bill which attempts to produce a governance arrangement ‘fit for purpose’ i.e. to match the institutional arrangements to the current and predicted future settings including to the likely resources available for coastal and marine management in Victoria. The Bill increases the emphasis on marine planning and management and introduces a marine and coastal policy to provide a framework for a marine and coastal strategy.

One major change is an attempt to enhance the integration of catchment management to coastal and marine management. Catchment management in Victoria is significantly better resourced than coastal zone management and the replacement of poorly funded regional coastal boards, using coastal action plans for regional planning, with regional and strategic plans and the existing coastal Catchment Management Authorities should significantly enhance integrated catchment and coastal zone management.


Geoff is current member of Victoria’s Environment Assessment Council and Director of Zoos Victoria. He is a past member of the Victorian Coastal Council, Parks Victoria Board and was the Chair of the Marine and Coastal Community Network for over a decade. He is Immediate Past President of the Australian Coastal Society and Chaired the Expert Panel preparing a new Marine and Coastal Act for Victoria.