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2016 AGM Chairman's Report

It gives me great pleasure to be able to say to you that we have had another productive year of data collection and collation. While this is our core reason for existing we do have a number of other functions in this community which we feel are contributing to overall community awareness of the state of what is happening on our coastline. We are intimately connected to the sea and while some of us are among the half billion people in the world living lower than 10 m above sea level, we don’t want that relationship to be too intimate.

There is no dispute that climate change is a reality but what is disputed by some is how much is man made and to what extent our own efforts in prevention can make a difference to ongoing temperature rise . Uncertainty is the root cause of unrest and best way to manage that is by sensible planning for the short and long term. Perhaps we should think in 10 year blocks. The management options are “do nothing” and retreat if forced to, or undertake measures for public and private property protection for the 1st 10years and then asses whether initial predictions were true and decide whether to continue the same policy based on data collected for those 10 years and assess the mass of ongoing research that would have been done, or change direction. At that point retreat may be the best solution but either way it’s going to be hugely expensive. I believe it is much too early to be thinking of retreating but of course it would be prudent to adopt policies now that would prevent complicating future plans. One can adopt the attitude that what ever we do is not going to make any difference but we don’t have all the answers and new research results are constantly appearing. I haven’t given up on man’s ingenuity.

One of our points of particular monitoring interest is whether the rock wall is going to do the job it was designed for, that is, to prevent erosion of the old tip site. We are also watching to see whether it might be having any unexpected effects in other parts of the beach. So far it’s working, but 2 yrs is not nearly long enough to know. All our data is made available to Moyne Shire Council and any other interested body and I am sure it will contribute to the information they need to make management decisions. It’s important for our group to be regularly review the relevance of what we are doing and consider whether we need to change our approach.

We have been well supported by the Shire over the last few yrs in the provision of 17 GPS sighted post along East and South Beach and equipment.

Other ways we have been engaging with the Community have been manning an information tent at the Folkie, our WEB site (, being involved in the movie with MSC you have just seen (Defend Port Fairy)which was commissioned by MSC after receiving a grant as part of a national coastal management awareness program.

We have also been involved with the 2 primary schools in Port Fairy. They have undertaken beach monitoring as part of a science project and are recording data on South Beach and Pea Soup under our supervision.

Lastly, having spent a few days at the Coast to Coast Conference in Melbourne I was made aware of my ignorance of the term Blue Carbon. I had not appreciated its significance. It is the carbon captured by the worlds oceans and ecosystems. It is carbon captured by mangroves, sea grass, salt marshes and possible algae and stored in the form of biomass and sediments and although they cover less than 5% of the sea bed they are responsible for over 50% of all carbon storage. They are highly efficient carbon sink holes but sadly are being lost at 2-7%/yr.

At the opening the Minister for Environment, Land, Water and Planning announced that a consultation process had just begun for a new Marine and Coastal Act and they also asking for input and ideas towards Victoria’s second Climate Change Adaption Plan.

On another note Tim Flannery, in his address, emphasised how difficult it was to effect change in the attitude of politicians about the urgency of climate change, most of whom had no scientific background. Lobbying doesn’t work. The most effective way is for a ground swell to come from the community but it takes time. That was a recurring theme during the conference. Local governments and coast management authorities are much better at this. They do realize the importance of community input and are now actively seeking it. It makes decision making easier if they know they have the community behind them, so don’t underestimate the value of your opinion, especially if you represent a group. Thankyou

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