The Jawbone Marine Sanctuary is part of a network of 13 Marine National Parks and 11 smaller Marine Sanctuaries created by the Victorian Government in 2002 to ensure representative samples of Victoria’s diverse, distinctive and amazing marine environment are conserved for future generations to enjoy.
These parks and sanctuaries now protect 5.3% of Victoria’s coastal waters, safeguarding important marine habitats and species.
Jawbone Marine Sanctuary is the closest marine protected area to Melbourne’s CBD.
Located off the coast of Williamstown, adjacent to the former Merrett Rifle Range, the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary covers an area of 30 hectares. It begins at the onshore sign west of the fishing village in Bayview Street and runs west 1.9 km along the foreshore, around the Jawbone to the onshore sign on the wader beach south of McGuire Crescent. The Sanctuary extends from the high water mark seaward, to a series of in-water boundary markers.
Jawbone Marine Sanctuary protects a unique community of mangroves and saltmarsh considered unusual for their growth amongst basalt rocks. The marine flora and fauna are significant as a scientific reference area and have been protected for 110 years during the operation of the Merrett Rifle Range. The intertidal areas and coastal vegetation provide important habitat for migratory and local seabirds and shorebirds.
The sanctuary’s tranquility and wide variety of coastal habitats are enjoyed and cherished by the local community and visitors. The strong maritime history of Williamstown is evident through remnant shipwrecks in the sanctuary waters.
The care of Jawbone Marine Sanctuary is not a task for the government alone, nor just for those who live nearby. It is a task for the whole Victorian community.
The Jawbone Marine Sanctuary Care Group (JMSC) therefore plays an important part in this.