Long ago, the area known today as Port Phillip Bay was not a bay but a wide expanse of dry countryside. We know this from scientific evidence and from stories passed down through generations by the local indigenous people. The Traditional Owners of this area call the Bay 'Nairm'.
Today, long after its inundation, Port Phillip Bay is unrecognisable beyond the wildest imaginings of its original occupants. Fringed by suburbia, constantly traversed by ships, and enjoyed by millions who visit its beaches every year, Port Phillip Bay is both cherished and used by the people who live and work around its shores, from Portsea, to Melbourne, Geelong and on to Queenscliff.
The Bay continues to support a healthy ecology with abundant marine plant and animal life. This is in part due to the efforts of successive Victorian governments, which in recent decades have increasingly acted to protect the Bay and its vibrant ecology.
The first Environmental Management Plan for the Bay drove significant action and investment to reduce nutrient loads to the Bay by improving the quality of stormwater and wastewater inflows, and helping to reduce the risk of marine pest introduction and spread. Ongoing investment by government, industry and the community has helped to conserve and improve the health of the Bay.
While the Bay is currently in good condition, we cannot take its health for granted. Melbourne’s population will almost double in the next 35 years, and significant growth will occur in Geelong and other regional centres. Combined with the additional pressures of climate change, it will be a challenge to ensure the Bay remains healthy.
This new Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan will build on the good work that has already been done, and provides a framework for managing the Bay and its catchment out to 2027. The Plan's vision of a healthy Port Phillip Bay that is valued and cared for by all Victorians, and the goals and priority areas for action to achieve this vision, align with and complement the recently released Protecting Victoria's Environment - Biodiversity 2037.