The main climate pressures affecting the marine environment in Victoria are changes in ocean temperatures, rainfall and ocean acidity. Understanding the effects of changes on fisheries and the marine environment can assist in understanding the likely impacts to coastal communities.
Increased ocean temperatures have a positive impact on recreational and charter fishing. This is because popular fish species that usually live in warmer waters are now able to live in Victorian waters. Negative impacts from increased ocean temperatures may occur for commercial fisheries and ships, ports and marinas. These impacts occur because warmer waters allow pests and diseases to flourish in Victorian waters where cool waters had previously excluded them. Additional regulations may be placed on shipping, and monitoring/remediation may be required to deal with pests and diseases in ports and marinas.
Rack- and pen-based aquaculture are negatively affected by changes in rainfall, particularly flood events. Floods wash bacteria, nutrients and pesticides into coastal waters which affect aquaculture production. Rack-based aquaculture in Victoria may also be negatively impacted by increased ocean acidity which can soften mussel shells.
High value species
The highest value fisheries in Victoria target abalone (over $23m) and rock lobster (over $15m). These two species are exported for sale on international markets and are much more highly valued than the next most valuable species, King George whiting (approximately $2.7m), which is sold domestically.
In contrast to the ranking of species by value, the greatest production in 2010/11 was from sardines (2628 t) which had a value of $1.5m. The production of abalone was second to that of sardines at 828 t (2010/11) and followed by other finfish (587 t).
Victoria’s aquaculture sector is relatively small, producing 2503 t in 2010/11. The main aquaculture species are blue mussel (951 t) and salmonids (968 t). These species are valued at approximately $4m and $6m respectively.
Henry and Lyle (2003) found that recreational and Indigenous fishing participation in Victoria was the lowest in Australia at approximately 12%. These fishers catch mainly flathead, pink snapper and European carp.
Victoria has an active shipping/sea freight industry as well as marine tourism and employment in ports and yacht clubs. Victoria’s shipping industry is ranked fourth for tonnes shipped and value behind Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. Victoria’s ports employ approximately 320 people, which is almost 12% of Australia’s total.
Marine tourism industry in Victoria is a relatively small but active industry. There were 11 whale-watching operators in the state in 2010/11 and over 56 000 participants. However, whale-watching in Victoria has experienced a decline in growth in recent times. Scuba diving and snorkelling businesses also operate in the state.
Almost a quarter of Australia’s yacht clubs are in Victoria which indicates that there is a large number of people participating in recreational sailing.
Climate and sealife
See Climate and sealife – species sensitivities for detailed information