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Boating and swimming zones


Parks Victoria is introducing new boating and swimming zones to improve safety across Port Phillip and Western Port. The new boating and swimming zones will be introduced in stages with new aids to navigation and clear signage installed prior to each new zone coming into effect.

Download summary brochure here

Why do Recreational Boating and Swimming Zones need to be changed?

Boating and swimming zones are prepared under the Marine Safety Act 2010 with the primary aim of providing a safe environment for water users. They apply conditions of operation and prohibit incompatible uses for safety reasons.

Older boating and swimming zones in Port Phillip and Western Port can be difficult to understand from the water or land. They have a large number of different types of zones that make them overly complex and do not reflect changing trends in boating and swimming activity.

Parks Victoria (PV) as the Local Port Manager of Port Phillip and Western Port, jointly with Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) who oversee the management of recreational boating across Victoria, have reviewed the existing boating and swimming zones. This was to determine what zone types are required in each local area around Port Phillip and Western Port to allow safe access and use of the coast and waterways.

Following extensive community consultation a standard set of zones and criteria for applying them was devised. Parks Victoria has worked in partnership with Transport Safety Victoria and in consultation with the local community to apply these zones across Port Phillip and Western Port.

The principles that have been applied during review of the recommendations are that the boating and swimming zones should be:

  • Safe.
  • Practical.
  • Easy to identify.
  • Easy to comply with and regulate.
  • Responding to current and anticipated future water uses.

What are the changes?

Some of the general and more significant changes as a result of reviewing each local area will include:

  • The realignment and simplification of zones to provide a more user-friendly arrangement.
  • Consistently applying a ‘No Boating Zone’ in front of Life Saving Clubs to provide increased swimmer safety.
  • The introduction of ‘shared wind sport areas’ to allow for the safe operation of the increasingly popular sport.
  • The removal of 'No Sailboard, 'Sailboards Only', 'No PWC or Sailboards' and 'PWC Only' zones to reflect changing water uses and duplication with other zones. 
  • The adjustment of the 5 knot zone between Safety Beach and Blairgowrie from 760m from shore to 500m from shore.

Four simple new zones will replace the current zones. These are:

  • Boating only - swimming is not permitted in this zone.
  • Swimming only - all vessels including personal watercraft, powered and non-power vessels are not permitted in this zone.
  • Shared Wind Sport Area - this zone provides an area for kite boarding, sail boarding and other wind based boating which may exceed 5 knots except within 50m proximity to other vessels and swimmers. Other vessels are permitted in this area.
  • 5 Knot speed limit zones – all vessels:
    • to 200m from shore – Swimming and boating are permitted within 200m of the shore subject to defined areas above. All vessels must adhere to the 5 knot speed limit in this zone.
    • to 500m from shore on the Mornington Peninsula from Martha Cove, Dromana to Sullivan Bay, Sorrento - Swimming and boating are permitted within 500m of the shore subject to defined areas above. All vessels must adhere to the 5 knot speed limit in this zone.

How will the new zones be implemented?

Parks Victoria has commenced implementation of the endorsed zones. Works to update buoys, piles and signage will occur where the current zones are particularly problematic. Implementation will continue as weather conditions, materials and contractor availability allows.

As works progress Parks Victoria will undertake local and general education campaigns for waterway users. It is important to note that the existing zones will remain in effect until the revised boating and swimming zones are installed and signed and gazetted by Transport Safety Victoria.

Parks Victoria and the Victorian Water Police will continue to enforce the existing zones until replaced by the newly revised boating and swimming zones. Notices to Mariners will also be issued to advise of revised zone arrangements and works occurring on the water.

The new zones have been prioritised and are being implemented in stages. The below maps show implemented and proposed zones. Proposed zones may change prior to implementation.

Stage 1

Port Melbourne to St Kilda (Implemented)

Stage 2

Dromana to Blairgowrie; Werribee River to Williamstown and Phillip Island

Stage 3

Mt Martha to Elwood (current stage of introduction)

Stages 4 & 5

All remaining zones (Future stages of implementation)

Frequently asked questions

Please download the FAQ's document.

For further information and to keep updated of when the boating and swimming zones will be rolled out in your local area, please contact the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963 or email info@parks.vic.gov.au.