What will happen when the sea comes lapping? New insight into natural asset impacts from Sea Level Rise in Victoria

Dr Anthony Boxshall1

1Victorian Coastal Council, East Melbourne, Australia


Victorian Coastal Council (VCC) has maintained a Science Panel for over 15 years to provide robust scientific and technical expertise to the Council. The Panel comprises a large (40+) and diverse group of people who have significant coastal and marine scientific and engineering expertise.

The VCC has drawn heavily on the Panel for advice, in particular to assist with understanding likely scenarios and impacts under a changed climate. The first major input was the work underpinning the 2008 Victorian Coastal Strategy which introduced the requirement to ‘Plan for possible sea-level rise of not less than 0.8m by 2100’, later reflected State Planning Policy Framework. In 2012 Panel input was used to introduce an interim 2040 target of 0.2m for infill development in high risk areas.

In early 2017 the VCC requested the Science Panel review the latest updates to the Global Mean Sea Level Rise released by USNOAA in January 2017. The VCC asked the Panel to consider current knowledge of impacts from local sea level rise. The VCC also requested advice on likely impacts on natural assets from changes in sea level, temperature and acidification.

One outcome was that much of the understanding of impacts in temperate climates is not documented in scientific literature and lives in expert knowledge. This is particularly true for biological interactions (e.g., food web impacts). In this presentation, I will run through some of the possible impacts to Victorian marine and coastal ecosystems presented to VCC based on knowledge of the Science Panel.


Anthony Boxshall is a marine ecologist by trade who has worked in Australia and the USA across Government, academia and private industry. He is the Founder & Principal of Science into Action, using leadership, innovation and science communication to turn great science into greater actions.

A former National President of the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA – the largest learned society for professional marine scientists in Australia), he has worked at UC Santa Cruz USA, Deakin University, and is on a number of innovation Boards. He is currently a Principal Research Fellow in the School of Biosciences at the University of Melbourne.

 He is a problem solver and strategist. As a hobby he has been communicating the wonders of the marine environment to a broad audience through the award-winning “Radio Marinara” on 3RRR-FM in Melbourne for over 20 years. He is a dad to 4 children who continually amaze, inspire, frustrate and leave him in awe of the potential of the future… and hence more determined to leave a positive coastal and marine legacy.