The Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site has six distinct wetland areas. The boundary for this Ramsar site was defined when it was listed in 1982. Since then, there have been some changes in land status and an increased understanding of wetland systems in the region and their values.
Before and during the renewal of the site’s management plan in 2017, community members and stakeholders identified several wetland areas outside the Ramsar site as worthy considerations for addition to the site. An action was subsequently included in the management plan to undertake a boundary review. DELWP is now progressing this review and is consulting with the public on eleven wetland areas that have been proposed for addition to the Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site by stakeholders.
The Animal Justice Party contributed a 10-page submission to this consultation and provided 19 recommendations.
- Extend Ramsar sites to include all listed sites as suggested in the submission.
- Conduct regular reviews of bird populations at other wetland areas in the region to consider future potential additions to the Ramsar site.
- Conduct regular reviews of wildlife populations at other wetland areas in the region to consider future potential additions to the Ramsar site.
- Conduct regular reviews of flora and fungal species at other wetland areas in the region to consider future potential additions to the Ramsar site.
- Provide opportunities for community engagement with the Ramsar sites to promote an improved appreciation of their importance and to increase human wellbeing.
- Consider community engagement activities such as clean up days and tree planting days.
- Investigate the viability of employing citizen science projects such as ‘Waterwatch’.
- Provide education within the local community regarding the significance of Ramsar sites and conservation of biodiversity and natural habitat. Expand education about the value of native birds and their interactions within ecosystems.
- Increase public education and awareness of newly listed Ramsar sites.
- Exclude all shooting activities from Ramsar sites as being incompatible with the sustainability of threatened migratory species, as was the original intention of the convention.
- Reduce human appropriation of native bird habitat.
- Promote citizen science opportunities such as summer/winter birdcounts, or ‘backyard’ bird counts to gather valuable data and engage the local community.
- Act with urgency to develop and employ a system-based plan to address the eight transition pathways identified in the United Nations Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report.
- Introduce habitat protection as a fundamental and consistent planning principle in all regions and sectors.
- Expand education about the value of native birds and their interactions within ecosystems.
- Increase support for long-term monitoring of the health of native bird populations.
- Ensure that any plans for the Ramsar site that potentially affect the Aboriginal community are identified early and prioritised for discussion and consultation.
- Encourage increased growth in, and support for, respectful, sustainable, wildlife-based tourism across the Ramsar site.
- Further support initiatives aimed at identifying and proposing sites for inclusion on the list of Wetlands of International Importance under the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, 1971), for the implementation of international treaties that relate to the protection of migratory birds, such as the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement, the China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement, and the Republic of Korea-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement.
There are many benefits and no disadvantages to increasing Ramsar sites across Port Phillip Bay and the Bellarine Peninsula. Australia’s commitment, as a global citizen, to the protections afforded vulnerable and migratory birds is essential for the survival of many species, and other nations would be rightly disappointed in Australia if we fail to make these protections available to as many sites as possible. We currently face the greatest decline in species globally, but even more so here in Victoria. The Ramsar convention aims to conserve and enhance remaining wetlands through wise use and careful management. It is our responsibility to fulfil these obligations in Australia.
You can download and read the full submission below.