The natural values of Gippsland’s ports and waterways are some of Victoria’s greatest assets and Gippsland Ports recognises that the environmental health and wellbeing of our ports and waterways has a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of Gippslanders.
Gippsland Ports is committed to operating in a manner that has minimum negative impact of the health and safety of employees, contractors, customers and the public and that management of the local ports is done in an environmentally sustainable manner; we aim to go beyond our legislative obligations in order to ensure, where opportunities exist, best practice safety and environmental management is implemented.
The Safety and Environmental Management Plan is prepared under Part 6A of the Port Management Act 1995 (Victoria), and provides the basis and direction of Safety and Environmental Management within Gippsland Ports.
The Management Plan intends to promote improvements in safety and environmental compliance and performance across all aspects of port activities and support management of related issues arising from port activities and operations for the benefit of employees, port users, neighbours and the wider Victorian community.
Dredging and Sand Management
Dredging at the entrance to the Gippsland Lakes has occurred for over 120 years and has been essential for maintaining access between the Gippsland Lakes and Bass Strait since the permanent entrance was constructed in 1889. Ensuring a safe port access is critical for the Lakes Entrance economy and local tourism, as is equally ensuring the environment is protected.
To allow ongoing dredging, the Commonwealth Department of Environment issued Gippsland Ports a 10-year sea dumping permit to continue TSHD maintenance dredging of the Bar and inner channels. This permit covers the period 2023 through to 2033. A requirement of the permit is to have a Long Term Monitoring and Management Plan in place for maintenance dredging with ocean disposal.
The Environmental Management Plan sets out strict rules to ensure the environment is protected. These rules set out when, where and how dredging is to occur. The Plan also consolidates obligations established under Victorian and Commonwealth approvals.
The Port Management (Local Ports) Regulations 2015 set out regulations regarding the refueling of vessels within port waters. Gippsland Ports specifically prohibits the refuelling of vessels at wharves and jetties under its control. There are a number of authorised refuelling facilities within Gippsland Ports’ waterways which can be found on our Waterways Online (Web Map).
The pristine nature of waterways under Gippsland Ports’ authority, are such that the introduction or encouragement of any marine pests are of great concern. An example of such a pest is the Northern Pacific Sea Star which has been identified in a number of our waterways in recent years. For further information on marine pests and methods to avoid their introduction please follow this link to the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action.
Sewage and Waste Disposal
The discharge of sewage and waste in to the waterway is an offence under Victorian law. Gippsland Ports and other agencies provide waste and sewage disposal facilities throughout the waterways of Gippsland under our management. For details on the locations of these facilities please see our Waterways Online (Web Map).
Gippsland Ports maintains marine pollution response capability for the area between the southern tip of Wilson’s Promontory to the NSW/VIC border. Equipment caches are stored at Port Welshpool, Paynesville and Lakes Entrance; and a crew of operational staff trained in incident control and pollution response is available around the clock. Gippsland Ports’ also have staff on the Victorian Marine Pollution Response team who are trained to assist in marine pollution events state wide. If you witness a marine pollution event please call (03) 5150 0500 during business hours, or alternatively report the incident here.
Watch Your Wake
Wake generated from some boating practises can be dangerous and damaging to the environment, so be conscious of what is around you and what you have left behind.
What is your Wake? Every craft moving over the water leaves a wake. A boat wake has two distinct sets of waves – one following the vessel and the other spreading outward from its track. The mixture of these two sets of waves forms the wake pattern, which varies with vessel length, speed and water depth.
Some operational practises to reduce your wake and its adverse effects:
When coming on the plane; pass through the transition phase smoothly and safely, getting the boat level in displacement speed without delay. Position your passengers and load throughout the boat, in order to reduce the time spent in the transition speed.
When passing another boat or shore structure, stay as far away as possible or pass at displacement speed as your wake may cause the operator of the other vessel to lose control or may cause damage to berthed vessels. Remember Victorian law stipulates that a vessel must not exceed 5 knots within 50 metres of another vessel.
Operate your boat as far away as possible from shore, jetties and other boats. When in open water far from shore, cruise at a speed that minimises wake (Planing Speed).
Look behind you to see and understand the impact of your wake. Adjust your speed to minimise impact. Even if you’re fairly close to the bank (say 70 metres away) the peak wake impact of a boat travelling at 20 knots only occurs as the first 5–10 waves hit. By that time, you’re half a minute and 300 metres away.
If in doubt slow down to displacement speed.