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Protected Areas

What are protected areas?

Protected areas are places that have been set aside for conservation of important natural or cultural features. These features may include plants, animals, or the reminders of our rich and colourful history. Some activities may be restricted by law in these areas to ensure the protection of these features.  

Some protected areas including National Parks, Marine National Parks, and Marine Sanctuaries have ‘no take’ rules which prohibit the removal of animals, plants, shells, sand or any other objects.  Protected marine areas managed by Parks Victoria in Port Phillip Bay include:

In addition, the intertidal zone of Port Phillip Bay - starting at the high water mark to a point where the water is two metres deep at any time, is protected by ‘no take’ rules including the removal of any invertebrate animals (animals without a back bone such as crustaceans, molluscs, worms and sea urchins).

Protected areas in the Yarra River catchment are forested areas north and east of the city that stretch along the Great Dividing Range, from Wallaby Creek in the west, to catchments in the Upper Yarra. These areas limit access to the public to ensure high quality drinking water.


Why are they protected?

Protecting areas within Port Phillip Bay and catchments is important to:

  • Protect our unique and diverse wildlife, threatened species and their habitats, and areas important for breeding.
  • Protect wildlife, including fish in marine areas from activities such as hunting, fishing and collecting.
  • Provide great places for education and scientific studies.
  • Provide important places for visitors and tourists to enjoy.
  • Contribute to protecting the quality of our precious drinking water in catchments.


How are they being managed?


Marine protected areas

  • Parks Victoria manages the parks and reserve system and some of the most important natural and cultural values in Victoria. These include a series of highly protected Marine National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries that safeguard Victoria’s unique and diverse marine environments and the species they contain.
  • The Victorian Fisheries Authority manages recreational and commercial fisheries management and licensing, and monitors illegal fishing activities including in the intertidal zone of the bay. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) also manages illegal clearing of foreshore vegetation and harassment or cruelty to wildlife.
  • Water Police respond to marine incidents or emergencies and harassment or cruelty to wildlife.
  • Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has a system for reporting fish deaths and marine pollution incidents. EPA’s Pollution Hotline 1300 EPA VIC is the first port of call for Victorians wanting to report suspected pollution events which may impact on a marine protected area.


Yarra River protected areas

  • Melbourne Water restricts access to most of Melbourne’s protected water harvesting catchments to reduce the risk of contamination entering the water supply. Melbourne Water, DELWP and Parks Victoria maintain a security and surveillance system across these catchments. Security teams patrol the catchments regularly.
  • Government works in partnership across agencies, catchment management authorities, local government and industry to deliver programs to protect and enhance Victoria’s waterways. In 2012–13, over 22,000 million litres of environmental water was delivered to wetlands and river systems.

 Upper Yarra

Upper Yarra. Image source: Melbourne Water


Informing communities

The Government’s 2013-2014 marine protected areas program has key actions to inform the public:

  • Delivery of a comprehensive visitor program including Summer by the Sea – an activity program in coastal areas across the state in partnership with DELWP.
  • Ensuring access to online information that includes reports, images, video footage and other materials that showcase Victoria’s marine environment.
  • Working together to improve understanding by visitors of the rules and regulations that apply to marine protected areas.


Environmental citizenship

Through strong environmental partnerships the Victorian government aims to encourage a new sense of environmental citizenship, where individuals, communities, businesses and other organisations take a more active and shared responsibility in efforts to support our environment.


What you can do to help protect our waterways

Everyone plays a vital part in caring for our waterways and bay. We can all do our part to reduce pollution, litter and stormwater by taking responsibility and respecting the environment.

Taking care of our waterways and bay can help protect the environment for future generations.

An educational Coastcare program offers guidance to minimise our impact on coastal environments while enjoying what our coasts have to offer. Please refer to 50 ways to care for our coast.

There are also many organisations and groups involved in maintaining the water quality of the Yarra River and the bay. For more information on how to get involved please refer to the How you can help page on this website.


To report litterers or pollution call EPA 24-hour Pollution Hotline (1300 EPA VIC).

Program Partners