Victoria’s coasts and oceans are a crucial component of our natural world. The marine ecosystem is closely linked to our land and the people that use these environments.

To make better decisions about how to manage our marine and coastal environments, it’s important that we have knowledge on how they operate and respond to changing conditions.

The Marine and Coastal Knowledge Framework (MACKF) has been developed to inform better choices when protecting our marine and coastal ecosystems. It includes standards for data collection, management, and analysis to feed back into our conservation decision making.

Read the Marine & Coastal Knowledge Framework Strategic Directions 2020-22 (PDF, 4.6 MB)
Read the Marine & Coastal Knowledge Framework Strategic Directions 2020-22 (DOCX, 16.1 MB)

Ecklonia radiata (Leather Kelp), Pope's Eye. Photographer: Mary Malloy

The MACKF is informed by policy requirements and modern technology.

It comprises 3 core themes:

  • Drivers: the legal and policy setting which is guided by internationally recognised scientific and management principles.
  • Outputs: the Knowledge Management System which pulls on scientific and socioeconomic data from research programs and data modelling.
  • Applications: the components that apply the data and information products to support management and planning decisions and their evaluation.

The drivers, outputs, applications and users of the Marine and Coastal Knowledge Framework

This figure shows an overview of the Marine and Coastal Knowledge Framework, highlighting it’s 3 core themes which are 1) Drivers, 2) Outputs, and 3) Applications.

The framework has been designed so it can be interconnected within a Knowledge Management System commonly known as CoastKit.

Current policy drivers and priorities

We need to ensure this Framework captures current policies and plans such as the following:

Marine and Coastal Policy 2020 (including Marine Spatial Planning Framework) and Environmental Assessments

The Marine and Coastal Policy 2020 (MAC Policy) is designed to deliver a healthy, dynamic and biodiverse marine and coastal environment that is valued in its own right, and that benefits the Victorian community, now and in the future.

The MAC Policy includes a Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Framework that provides a process for achieving integrated and coordinated planning and management of the marine environment. Implementation of the MSP Framework will include a State-wide Assessment to determine marine planning areas and priorities, and development of MSP Guidelines by late 2021.

The outputs and application components of MACKF can be used to assist in implementation of the MSP Framework, in particular undertaking MSP processes.

The diagram on the right illustrates how output and application components of the MACKF are developed and linked to the MAC Policy and MSP Framework.

The MACKF will also assist in undertaking Environmental Assessments through the application of modelling and spatial analytics. Data on marine species, habitats and features along with sector activities and their areas of operational and socio-economic importance, will be used as inputs A suite of ecosystem models will then quantify the interaction of sector activities, such as fisheries, tourism, renewable energy and extraction, with marine species and features present in the area of interest. The models are informed by sensitivity assessments to existing and proposed activities evaluated by cumulative risk assessments against all sector activities. The approach will provide spatially explicit outputs, enabling those undertaking Environmental Assessments to consider objectives and environmental values to manage various uses and evaluate trade-offs.

Policy drivers of the framework


The outputs theme of the Marine and Coastal Knowledge Framework supported by the CoastKit Knowledge Management System that provides managers and researchers with access to marine biodiversity and environmental data through knowledge portals.

CoastKit includes marine and coastal data from historic and contemporary monitoring and research programs. This includes observational records, models and map information products.

Key outputs:

  • Combined Biotope Classification Scheme (CBiCS) a new marine ecological classification scheme to meet new challenges
  • Habitat Distribution Models predict habitat from observation records and environmental variables by applying machine learning methods
  • Features Atlas that describes priority marine features, management areas and sites of significant ecosystem or cultural services.
  • Geo-bibliography of projects and studies that can be searched spatially or with key words.

Outputs under development

  • Features Activity Sensitivity Tool (FeAST) that provides sensitivity ratings for marine habitats and priority marine features to pressures and activities using the Marine Evidence based Sensitivity Assessment process developed by Tyler-Walters et al 2020 at the Marine Life Information Network.
  • Ecological Network Modelling Tool (EcoNet) to construct ecosystem models that represent the relationships between marine species, habitat and/or features and their ecosystem or cultural services. The models link drivers, activities and pressures in an integrated network. A review of the approach is provided by Elliot et al 2017.


A key application of the Framework is to provide communities with access to Victoria’s marine and coastal data using online mapping, visualisation technology and ArcGIS StoryMaps.

This includes the following:

CoastKit tile

Priorities to 2022-23

The priorities and next steps for the Marine and Coastal Knowledge Framework and CoastKit are:

Page last updated: 02/09/21