Coast and Marine


West Gippsland’s marine and coastal environment extends from San Remo in the west to opposite Lakes Entrance on the east coast. It includes the Ramsar-listed wetlands of Corner Inlet and Nooramunga and the Gippsland Lakes, a number of marine protected areas and over 20 estuaries.

The coastal zone includes the land within five km of the coast and the marine area extending out to the limit of state waters (three nautical miles from shore)1

There are a range of coastal and marine assets in the West Gippsland region that support important cultural, environmental, economic and social values.   

The region’s coastal and marine areas are important for recreation and tourism. Natural resources associated with the marine environment, including Bass Strait oil and gas reserves are important for the region’s economic future. The region also provides major recreational fishing opportunities and supports commercial fishing in Corner Inlet. 

Sandy beaches, rocky platforms, subtidal reefs and the estuaries, bays, inlets and islands provide habitat and breeding grounds for native plant and animal species. Numerous species and communities are listed under Victoria and National legislation including the Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh Community and the Giant Kelp Marine Forests of South-east Australia listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. 

The region supports many species listed in migratory bird agreements with Japan (JAMBA), China (CAMBA) and the Republic of Korea (ROKAMBA) as well as threatened species, such as the Little Tern, Latham’s Snipe and Hooded Plover and a range of seabirds. 

The majority of the coast in the West Gippsland region is on public land, with a limited amount in private ownership. The width and type of the public land varies greatly, with large national parks in some areas (such as Wilsons Promontory) and narrow foreshore reserves adjoining some towns. 

The new Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park combines 40kms of coastal reserves from San Remo to Inverloch, to better protect the natural and cultural heritage while improving access, facilities and recreation opportunities. 

Wilsons Promontory Marine Park is Victoria’s largest and most southerly marine national park. It is home to one of the richest marine ecosystems in Australia. Its spectacular underwater world rivals that of the Great Barrier Reef2.

The Burrunan dolphin is endemic to southern Australian waters, and is listed as critically endangered under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. There are only two known resident populations, one in the Gippsland Lakes and on in Port Phillip. There are important migration paths for Blue, Southern Right and Humpback whales, and breeding colonies for Australian and New Zealand fur seals. Other significant marine habitats include seagrass meadows along parts of the Gippsland coast and the southernmost global extent of mangroves in Corner Inlet3.

Knowledge of the marine environment, and in particular threats to the marine environment from terrestrial land uses is a policy area that is still developing. Developments in this field will inform future strategic planning for marine and coastal environments under the next RCS. 

Blue Carbon

Coastal saltmarsh, mangroves and seagrass have a key role in carbon sequestration. Rates of carbon accumulation in these ecosystems can be 30-50 times higher than rates in the soils of terrestrial forests. This is in part because blue carbon ecosystems can trap particles and suspend sediments out of the water column. Undisturbed, these sediments accrete over time. This allows blue carbon ecosystems to continually capture carbon, unlike terrestrial ecosystems in which carbon capture may eventually plateau4.