Beach Watch – community based coastal monitoring on the northern Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria

Mr Nick Wynn1,3, Ms Leia Howes2, Ms  Jane Shearer1,4

1Bellarine Bayside Foreshore Committee Of Management, Portarlington, Australia, 2Great Ocean Road Coast Committee of Management, Torquay, Australia, 3Central Coastal Board, Melbourne, Australia, 4Bellarine Catchment Network, Mannerim, Australia

Abstract

Bellarine Bayside is a Victorian government appointed committee of management that manages 17 kms of coastal reserves along the northern Bellarine Peninsula on the western coastline of Port Phillip Bay. In order to obtain quality data on sediment movement along the shoreline across temporal and spatial scales, Bellarine Bayside has recently implemented a citizen-science community coastal monitoring program titled Beach Watch. The program incorporates many social and community objectives.

Dedicated Beach Watch community volunteers regularly measure beach profiles at 20 strategically selected monitoring locations. To ensure the data is scientifically rigorous, quality control measures have been incorporated into the survey methodology and volunteers are provided with a step-by-step manual; maintained monitoring kits; regular training; and assistance every step of the way.

At each monitoring location a marker post has been installed to provide the AHD benchmark height. When measuring profiles, volunteers use an optical dumpy level and survey staff to measure elevations along a set transect which extends from the beach back shore to the inter-tidal zone. Height measurements and beach substrate data is recorded at no greater than 2 metre intervals along the transect. Raw data is submitted to staff who check and process the data using a pre-designed Microsoft Excel template, which generates the profile.

Next steps for Beach Watch is to investigate the development of a simple data base to store and help analyse the information and to incorporate other monitoring techniques such as photo-point monitoring and drones.

Biography

Nick has a Bachelor of Science from James Cook University majoring in marine biology. He worked in various roles at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for 12 years before moving to Victoria to work with the then Department of Environment and Primary Industries. Nick now works with the Bellarine Bayside Foreshore Committee of Management on the northern Bellarine Peninsula. Throughout his career Nick has worked in a range of management roles including scientific research, marine and coastal planning, operations, policy development, environmental impact assessment, community and stakeholder engagement, and land use planning.

About the Association

The Australian Coastal Society (ACS) was initiated at the Coast to Coast Conference in Tasmania in 2004. The idea was floated as a means for those interested in coastal matters to communicate between conferences and where possible take resolutions of the conference to appropriate levels of government.

The idea was discussed further at the Coast to Coast Conference in Melbourne in 2006 and it was agreed that Bruce Thom develop a constitution of a company limited by guarantee that would operate on a national basis.

This plan was accomplished and in 2008 at the Coast to Coast Conference in Darwin the constitution was ratified and an Executive appointed. The company received charitable status in 2011.

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