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Magazines : Our Place - Geelong Region Magazine 2011
VICTORIAN Coastal Council chair Libby Mears is always watching her back. "I recall a marine scientist saying, 'If we look out to the ocean and we are worried by what we see, turn around, because the cause of the problem is behind us'," she says. On the beach at Aireys Inlet, cold sand under her feet, the local government go-getter says this coast is "in her blood". ere is nowhere else she would rather be. Appointed coastal council chair in 2007, Libby leads a team of eleven experts who advise the State Government about issues affecting Victoria's coastal and marine environments. And it would be hard to find a more passionate advocate for our beaches than the Surf Coast councillor and mother-of- three. She loves the thought of the sea being one of the last wild places we cherish and lives in awe of the ocean every day. She even loves the weather. " ere is nothing better than being on the coast in winter, in front of a fire after a wintry walk on the beach," she says. "I try to walk early every morning. e beach from Fairhaven to Moggs Creek changes every day. ere is nothing more beautiful than the sunrise at Fairhaven." Libby says the coastal council has an important role in helping to develop the State Coastal Strategy every five years. e strategy covers a long-term vision for our coast and provides important direction for state government, local government and the many different agencies and organisations that play a role in its management. It also provides a set of principles about how to make decisions when managing the coast. "It helps us prioritise the protection of the natural environment, direct activity to help manage areas of the coast, plan for the future use of the coast in an integrated way and ensure development is appropriate to the environment," she says. e latest version of the Victorian Coastal Strategy identified three key priorities for focus -- climate change, population growth and development, and the marine environment. e Victorian Coastal Council works with leading scientists to understand the latest research and emerging issues for our coastline. Libby believes climate change means we will see increased frequency and severity of storm events leading to inundation and flooding. "We are also experiencing sea level rise which is predicted to continue throughout the 21st century," she says. "Increased sea temperatures, changing sea currents and further acidification of the ocean will also affect our marine environment." But despite population growth pressures and climate change Chair of the Victorian Coastal Council Libby Mears at Aireys Inlet ... It's vital to plan for the future use of the coast in an integrated way and ensure development is appropriate to the environment. Photograph: Alison Wynd 20 GEELONG ADVERTISER
Breakaway Autumn 2011