Gippsland Lakes health is again in the government spotlight

THE Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee has begun a community consultation program to help secure the future health and prosperity of the Gippsland Lakes.

At a function to launch the committee and new State Government investment in community and environmental projects for the lakes, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan flagged the State Government’s intention to improve co-ordination of planning and environmental management for the lakes.

Ministerial advisory committee chairman Dr Peter Veenker said the committee was a fresh approach, combining local experience with a substantial State Government investment to deliver practical improvements for the lakes.

“The government is investing $10 million over four years to maintain the environmental health of the lakes and help secure continued confidence in the economic and lifestyle opportunities that they provide,” he said.

Funding was announced for a range of projects including revegetation and erosion control works in conjunction with Landcare groups and farmers, further research to help minimise the impact of algal blooms on tourism and the community,and funding to support more community involvement in decision-making.

The committee’s executive officer Martin Richardson said the ministerial advisory committee planned for stronger community participation in guiding the future of the lakes.

“The committee is looking to involve local communities, tourism businesses, the fishing industry, recreational users and all other groups in decisions about the best way to preserve and promote this precious asset,” he said.

“No one disagrees that the environmental health of the lakes and its catchment is paramount.

“Tourism activity, recreation, the fishery and the lifestyle are all built on a healthy lakes system and we want to encourage a more active community discussion about securing these assets.

“Our new website will provide a resource for community members to be better informed about ongoing research and to participate more actively in discussion of the issues affecting all aspects of the lakes.”

Mr Richardson said a community survey to gauge perceptions about the lakes would also be launched.

“The committee will prepare an environmental strategy and recommend a program of activities to support and sustain investment in the future of the lakes”, he said.

“Our focus will be on greater community participation and streamlined decision-making.

“We want to raise public awareness and involvement.”

He said representatives of business, government and environmental groups present at the launch agreed on the committee’s vision — a healthy and prosperous Gippsland Lakes that supporedt tourism, boating, fishing and the unique lakes lifestyle.

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