Neil, Our Official Baykeeper
Neil Blake OAM, is the award-winning Port Phillip Baykeeper, working to keep the Bay in good health today and for future generations, by combining projects of practical action, advocacy and education.
As part of the Waterkeeper Alliance, the Port Phillip Baykeeper is a non-governmental advocate that is recognised by the local community, government and media.
Read the Port Phillip Baykeeper Program Framework to see how the Baykeeper connects everyday Bay users, community groups and organisations to learn about and protect the Bay and its catchments for today and future generations.
Discover Baykeeper Resources
The Port Phillip Baykeeper monitors the pulse of our Bay, conducting research, citizen science, and education on a number of issues such as microplastics, litter, molluscs and shells and erosion.
Baykeeper Position Papers
A position paper provides recommended actions to Local, State and Federal Governments, to address the threats presented to the health of Port Phillip Bay.
Download our suite of evidence-based position papers to uncover the position of the Port Phillip Baykeeper on the below issues regarding the health of the Bay:
Microplastics - A risk too often overlooked
The Clean Bay Blueprint, October 2020
Clean Bay Blueprint is a three-year litter study conducted between July 2017 and June 2020. The project had three aims: to conduct rigorous and replicable methods to quantify plastic pollution through microplastics trawls and beach litter audits; to engage the community in citizen science activities, and to build partnerships with other organisations that target litter and Bay health.
Microplastics in the Maribyrnong and Yarra Rivers, May 2018
Updated results from Clean Bay Blueprint project
Marine Impacts of Microplastics, 2017
MWRRG Case Study including Australia’s first in-river microplastic trawls conducted by the Baykeeper and Yarra Riverkeeper from 2014-2017.
Microplastics in the Maribyrnong and Yarra Rivers
Research results of microplastics trawls for the Litter Hotspots project ‘Turn off the Tap’ 2014-2017
Nurdle Soup Booklet, 2014
A paper describing the plastic pellet influx in Port Phillip Bay.
Litter (plastic pollution) survey methods
Beach Litter Surveys
Download Litter Audit Sheet
River Creek Bank Litter Surveys
Download Litter Audit Sheet
Street Litter Surveys
Download Litter Audit Sheet
Help us study litter without overlooking microplastics. This data captures litter type, volume and collectively illustrates pathways from our coasts backwards to source hotspots. These zoomed in quadrat surveys can be completed by a small team during a broader clean-up activity. Collected data also goes into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative database.
Blessington Street Cigarette Butt Report, 2011
Government and community can design well-targeted interventions by counting butt litter specifically address by address, and mapping adjacent infrastructure and land use type
Molluscs and Shells - Indicators of Bay health
Shoreline Shell Surveys
Download Shoreline Shell Survey
The size, variety and abundance of molluscs (and their shells) in the intertidal zone and shoreline are biological indicators of changes in our Bay. This is a great activity for all ages to record and conduct basic classifications as you beachcomb. How to describe the shells you find – basics and intermediate
Live Mollusc Surveys
Get your feet wet helping us dig up, identify and measure molluscs. The EcoCentre have a permit to handle and replace these mysterious, little living engineers of our Bay – contact us to learn more.
Citizen Science Evaluation Rubric
Citizen Science Evaluation Rubric
Evaluation process guide, evaluation form, and detailed evaluation rubric to help you improve your citizen science projects. (Version 1.1)
Nairm Catchment Network
Nairm Catchment Report: Potential Bayside network models for our community water protectors
Along with Yarra Riverkeeper Associaton and Werribee Riverkeeper Association, we convened workshops for waterway protectors, to develop priorities and models for a network that productively links the many catchments and their stakeholders in Port Phillip Bay health.
The current Port Phillip Baykeeper has a history of advocating for the health of Port Phillip Bay for over 30 years. During this time, the Port Phillip Baykeeper and Baykeeper program has:
Founded organisations and community groups
- Founding member of the St Kilda penguin study (1986)
- Founding member of Earthcare St Kilda (1989)
- Founding member of St Kilda Indigenous Nursery Cooperative (1992)
- Founding director of Port Phillip EcoCentre (1998)
Had key policy wins for the health of the Bay
- Developed plan for West Beach Natural History Project, subsequently approved by Council (1991)
- Successfully advocated for the St Kilda Breakwater to be declared as a Cooperative Management Area for Wildlife (1992)
- Influenced the development of the Victorian Government Litter Hotspots Program (2015)
- Influenced the inclusion of microplastics analysis and tracking in litter monitoring by the Victorian EPA (2015)
- Successfully advocated for the inclusion of plastic as a threat to waterway health in the Victorian State Environment Protection Policy (2018)
Engaged in science communication and presentations for the health of the Bay
- Radio presenter on various community radio stations and the ABC (1985 to present)
- Presentations at various Bay forums and coastal management forums (1989 to present)
- News bulletin interviews on commercial TV channels, particulary around the St Kilda penguins (1990s to present)
- Represented City of St Kilda on Wildlife Cooperative Area Advisory Committee (1992)
- Spokesperson for the Blue Wedges Coalition, campaigning against channel deepening in Port Phillip Bay (2005 – 2008)
- Member of the Community Liasion Panel for the Port Phillip Bay Channel Deepening Project (2009)
- Portrait exhibited in the Salon des Refusés (2019)
Pioneered citizen science throughout the Bay and its catchments
- Designed beach litter audit methods (1980s)
- Designed shoreline seashell survey methods as introduction to marine ecology (2007)
- Designed cigarette butt litter audit methods (2011)
- Initiated the first ever study of microplastics in the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers (2014), the first of its kind in Australia
- Designed citizen science methods to record sand surface levels across beaches, and intertidal sandy seabed mollusc populations (2016)
- Designed the first Street to Bay microplastic litter audit method to track marine plastics to their source on streets in catchments (2016)
- Engaged young people in Baykeeper citizen science activities through the Be The RE-Generation Project, receiving a Community Impact Award from the Inner Eastern Local Learning and Employment Network, Victoria (IELLEN) (2016 – 2018)
Co-authored books and reports, and co-produced films
- Produced Grow Your Own (1990s), a video guide on revegetation methods for schools
- Co-author of Indigenous Plants of the Sandbelt (2003), the first comprehensive book of flora and natural history of the sandbelt region
- Coordinated research and production of Country Connect – A Guide to Protection of Aboriginal Cultural Sites in Victoria (2010)
- Coordinated research and production of Best Practice Guidelines to Removal of Northern Pacific Seastars in Port Phillip Bay(2010)
- Co-produced the award-winning Baykeepers documentary on plastic in the bay (2014), which inspired the rapid growth of local chapters of Beach Patrol (from 3 local chapters to over 26)
- Co-produced Little Bit of Litter (2017), a music video showcasing the effects of plastic pollution on the Bay
- Co-author of Microplastics in the Maribyrnong and Yarra Rivers, Melbourne, Australia (2018), a scientific report on the first ever study of microplastics in these urban rivers
Received numerous individual accolades
- Awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to community and environment (2005)
- Awarded the Dame Phyllis Frost Clean Beaches Award (2012)
- Awarded the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award from the Victorian Coastal Council (2014)
- Awarded the Premier’s Recognition Award for Sustainability for the Life Support for the Bay Project (2014)
- Part of the EcoCentre team which has been received over five national and international awards for their work on the health of the Bay (2014 to present)
Help continue Neil's work in giving our Bay a voice.
Contribute to funding our new
Port Phillip Baykeeper.
Port Phillip Baykeeper connects everyday Bay users, community groups and organisations to learn about and protect the Bay and its catchments for today and future generations. 76% of Victorians live and work around Port Phillip Bay, depending on and impacting its health. As climate change, pollution and population growth put pressure on the Bay, the Baykeeper links community networks with local knowledge and passion to agencies and institutions with technical skill, resources and management responsibilities.
The EcoCentre gratefully acknowledges our sponsors, local businesses and organisations who support our initiatives.