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22 March 2010
Coastal policy expert and Deakin University researcher, Associate Professor Geoff Wescott, says decisive action is needed if Victoria is to regain its previously held global leadership position in marine conservation.
Associate Professor Wescott was addressing a Victorian National Parks Association gathering on marine issues in Melbourne on the evening of Monday 22 March.
“In 2002, the Victorian Labor Government claimed a world first in establishing a suite of marine national parks in Victoria’s coastal waters. But since then there has not been a single new marine national park declared in Victoria. Meanwhile, the same government has added six national parks on land,” Associate Professor Wescott said.
“This inaction means that not only is Victoria no longer a leader in marine conservation, it is in fact a straggler and is failing to meet the global targets set for marine protected areas.
“Victoria has been stagnant for eight years with only 5.3 per cent of its coastal waters in highly protected areas whilst the global targets are for well over 10 per cent.
“Compare this with the 18 per cent of Victoria’s land area reserved in highly protected areas and we can see how far behind marine conservation is now lagging.”
But Associate Professor Wescott said action could be taken.
“The Government has committed itself to preparing Victoria’s first Marine Plan. If the State Labor Government seized the initiative they could also revamp the Coastal Management Act as a Marine and Coastal Act and not only give the proposed Marine Plan full statutory backing but also enhance the Coastal Strategy and ensure the continuation of the ground breaking work of the Victorian Coastal Council.
“Both of these latter initiatives are regarded as Australian, if not world’s, best practice and along with a Marine Plan and an immediate expansion in marine national parks I believe it would return Victoria to where it should be: the world leader in marine and coastal policy,” Associate Professor Wescott concluded.
Please note: Associate Professor Geoff Wescott was an inaugural member of the Victorian Coastal Council, but his membership ceased over five years ago.
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