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Queenscliffe Herald Article - February 2006

Importance of Swan Bay

By Jill Warneke
Swan Bay Environment Association

Queenscliff’s proximity to Swan Bay adds enormously to its beauty and charm. The Bay, covering approx. 300 hectares, is a shallow, tidal, marine area, constantly changing with the tides. A full moon over Swan Bay is a fabulous sight and winter sunsets often enhance the colour and texture of the Bay.

Swan Bay’s natural beauty is of great value to us, but the Bay is also of immense scientific and environmental value. It has significant vegetation; is a breeding ground for fish, particularly mullet and whiting; has extensive and diverse seagrass meadows; has mudflats which provide for the highest diversity of waders in Port Phillip Bay; and is used as a feeding ground by the endangered Orange Bellied Parrot.

Swan Bay’s significance for birds is recognised internationally and the treaties to protect this habitat for birds are known as JAMBA, CAMBA and RAMSAR, although few people know what these words mean. CAMBA is the China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement and JAMBA is the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement. Governments of these countries agreed to conserve and enhance the habitats of the birds which migrate between Australia and these two countries.

The RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands was held at Ramsar in Iran in 1971 when the importance of wetlands was recognised, and agreements were made to conserve these rapidly disappearing areas. The Victorian Government included Swan Bay in the areas it designated to be protected.

As well as the obvious presence of birds and of its unique vegetation, Swan Bay and its environs are home to a host of other creatures including invertebrates, spiders, reptiles, crabs, banjo sharks, water rats, butterflies, etc. Even if we cannot see all of these creatures it is important to know they are there and that we are helping to preserve them by valuing and protecting Swan Bay.

The Swan Bay Environment Association was formed in the 1980’s by a group of concerned residents, including scientists, biologists and conservationists, who felt Swan Bay was under threat from development, agriculture and fishing. Displays, talks, revegetation projects around the foreshore, construction of a board walk (on Murray Rd, near the corner of Ward Rd.) and propagating indigenous plants at the Community Nursery in Nelson Rd have been some of the “hands on” activities undertaken.

The other important purpose of the Association is to lobby for better management and legislative protection of the Bay and this has culminated in Swan Bay being declared part of the Victorian Marine Park system. But because the Bay is still under threat from issues such as over-development, some agricultural practices and land clearing, the Association’s work is still very important. By joining the Association you can support their conservation activities.

Enquiries about the Swan Bay Environment Association can be made to the President, Felicity Thyer, on 5258 2559 or via Box 143 Queenscliff or via our enquiries form.

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