The Coastwatchers Association Incorporated is the leading community environmental and conservation group serving the South Coast of NSW, principally in the Shire of Eurobodalla between Narooma and Batemans Bay.
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The information below was sent by the Nature Coast Marine Group regarding the abolition of sanctuary zones in the Batemans Marine Park without scientific assessment or public consultation and even without consulting the Batemans Marine Park Advisory Committee. Click through to their website to sign a petition to Save our Sanctuaries, to join the group, or simply to subscribe to their emails (Membership Page) in order to be kept up-to-date on the issue.
The NSW Government is scrapping sanctuary zones in the Batemans Marine Park We have been struggling during this year to head off a push from local member Andrew Constance to get rid of a number of sanctuary zones in the marine park. Unfortunately the worst has now come to pass. Agriculture Minister Marshall put out a media release on Thursday 12 December in which he announced that recreational fishing will henceforth be permitted in sanctuary zones at Montague Island (2 sites), Wagonga Inlet (2 sites), Brou Lake and Nangudga Lake. The decision is even worse than we feared because these changes will take place immediately under an “amnesty” system, before any consultation with the community.
There are good reasons why these sanctuary zones exist. They allow for protection of biodiversity in the wide variety of habitats in the marine park, they promote conditions for the flourishing of marine flora and fauna and protect threatened species, including grey nurse sharks, black rockcod, shorebirds and seagrasses. All these values will now be undermined.
By contrast, there are no good reasons for the changes that have been announced. There has been no process of scientific assessment. No scientific justification has been put forward for the changes, which in addition undermine the integrity of the zones as scientific reference areas.
The process is deeply disheartening. The legislation requires that changes be open for public consultation for a period of at least two months, but with the decision already made, what hope can anyone have that that the consultation will be genuine?
In addition, these cut backs to sanctuary zones have not been considered by the Batemans Marine Park Advisory Committee (on which we are represented) or any other forum representing the wider community.
We are particularly disappointed because we met with staff from the offices of both Agriculture Minister Marshall and Environment Minister Kean in the past couple of months to express concern about the Constance proposals. Mr Marshall subsequently wrote to us to say that “any proposed change to sanctuary zones would need to be subject to public consultation for a minimum of two months as required by legislation”.
Looking forward we have to be concerned because Andrew Constance has foreshadowed a ‘step by step’ approach that would see the dismantling of further sanctuary zone protections. The prospect is for a marine park that would be there on the map but not in reality – nothing but a “paper” park.
writes: I attended the last Dargues Reef CCC meeting on 30 September
as an observer, and since then my nomination has been formally
accepted so that I will be able to fully participate in the next CCC
meeting to be held on 16 December. I hope I will be able to do
Coastwatchers’ interests justice, as I have had relevant experience
in my past career in geology and environmental management in mining.
This experience includes developing and organising consultative
groups for the environmental and social impacts of uranium mining in
the Northern Territory, a nd implementing operational procedures for
the regulation of mining in Queensland, as well as environmental
auditing of mine sites.
September CCC meeting was almost entirely dedicated to noise;
presentations were made by the NSW EPA on regulatory requirements and
how monitoring is undertaken, and by the company and Majors Creek
residents on a number of issues which have arisen. Perhaps the most
significant issue is noise at night. Negotiations have focussed on
noise and vibration from blasting, and when ore processing operations
begin, crushing and truck movement timetables. Currently the local
community is pressing to have ore stockpiled underground at night,
with truck movements to the crusher limited to daylight hours.
short presentation was made to the company at this meeting about the
unplanned release of water on 17 September, when an incorrectly
graded slope related to construction of the tailings dam allowed
sediment-laden water to flow into Spring Creek. The data presented
related only to the timing and volume of water flow: flow before the
event was below 10 litres per second and peaked at 80 litres per
second; flow returned to less than 10 l/s on 20 September.
Representatives of NSW EPA visited the site on 17 September, water
samples were taken, and a diversion drain was constructed that day to
stop the flow of water into Spring Creek. Unfortunately no data was
presented at the CCC meeting or since regarding water quality and the
extent to which any effects may have extended downstream. I have been
pressing the chair of the CCC and the company for that information. I
was informed by the company on 21 November that a report on the
monitoring data has been drafted and will be uploaded to their
website once approved. I believe the company has met the regulatory
requirements for management of this unplanned release and subsequent
reporting, but that community expectations are not reflected in the
long time it is taking to report on water quality. I intend to pursue
this matter at the next CCC, and stress that monitoring data related
to unplanned water releases needs to be publicised fully and quickly
to all downstream stakeholders. Delays in releasing such information
can only perpetuate (or increase) negative opinions about the Dargues
of the environmental manager
The HSEC Manager (Health, Safety Environment & Community) has
recently resigned and his last day is 22 November. The position of
Senior Environmental Advisor
is still vacant.
Management Plan for the Operational Phase
operational phase of mining (open stope blasting, ore trucking, ore
processing to produce concentrate, and trucking concentrate off-site)
is planned to begin during the next 6 months. A Water Management Plan
is being drafted for the operational phase. I has been given an
assurance by NSW EPA that Coastwatchers will have the opportunity to
comment on the draft prior to it being finalised. Key issues for us
will relate to water quality monitoring, inclusion of parameters
relating to downstream water quality risks, and release of monitoring
presentation and project update
company held a public information forum in Majors Creek on the
evening of 18 November. Key points were:
of the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) is nearly complete and
placement of the High Density Polyethelyne (HDPE) liner is in
water bores have been installed into old mine workings (Snobs and
Stewart & Mertons), and one ‘Harvestable Rights Dam’ has
been built (these will allow the company to source water for mine
operations, and also to maintain water flow in Spring Creek).
underground mining operations began in September with over 2,000
metres of underground development completed. The first stope firing
will take place in the next 6 months.
of the processing plant is 80% complete; commissioning
is expected by the end of February, with transport of
concentrate to Port Kembla beginning in that month.
the next 6 months, more ‘Harvestable Rights Dams’ will be built
and tailings deposition into the TSF will begin.
slide presentation from the public information session is on the
Lake Brou is a beautiful coastal lake lying just 2.5 kms south-west of Potato Point near Bodalla on the NSW South Coast. It is part surrounded by Eurobodalla National Park to the north-east, east and south-east, and forms part of the Batemans Marine Park. The Coastal Lakes Inquiry undertaken by the NSW Healthy Rivers Commission in 2002 classified Lake Brou as a Significant Coastal Lake.
Unfortunately the forest on the lake’s
north-west edge is part of Bodalla State Forest (compartment 3004)
and at this stage is scheduled for logging late 2019.
is the Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Harvest Plan (current as of
variety of threatened species rely on these forests. As an example
the Swift Parrot uses NSW South Coast forests for winter-flowering
nectar trees on its annual migration from Tasmania. All State
Forests ( including the compartment under threat of logging) in
Eurobodalla Shire east of the Princes Highway form part of
to Merimbula Important Bird Area,
identified as such by BirdLife
of its importance for Swift
critical forests extend about 10 km inland from the coast and
include many other local forests currently being logged or planning
to be logged. The most important feed trees for these migratory birds
other flowering eucalypts.
Forests dominated by Ironbarks and
Bloodwoods which are likely to support the Parrots in years when the
Spotted Gums are not flowering are also vital.
Apart from threats to fauna and flora there is the increased risk of uncontrollable fire in the area due to large volumes of crown debris left drying out on the forest floor. Increasingly Forestry Corporation is experiencing difficulty finding time in the shortening annual windows for burning off all the “waste” on the forest floor that is being generated by all the logging operations. More and more logged forests are left to pose fire risks from arson or lightning strikes.
CoastWatchers urges all concerned
citizens to write to the local State member Andrew Constance, to
Forestry Corporation of NSW and to the Beagle, BayPost and Narooma
News demanding a moratorium on logging of all coastal State Forests
and in particular Bodalla State Forest adjoining Lake Brou…..too
precious to lose.
Batemans Bay High School Student Environment Council is busy preparing a Year 12 Wellbeing Native Garden. Beds have been prepared and Lilli Pillis planted. “Next step is planting natives in tubs and installing planter baskets on the wall” said teacher Kerryn Hopkins.
The garden will encourage local native birds to return to the school environment as well as providing an attractive gathering place for year 12 students. And the hands on work by the students improves their horticulture and ecological understanding.
Ms Hopkins thanked the Coastwatchers Environment Fund for sponsoring the project.
New connections were made and ‘light-bulb moments’ were plenty when nine high-school students spent the weekend of October 26th & 27th 2019 immersed in nature.
Held at Meringo Point Sanctuary, Eurobodalla Young Legends 2019 saw the students mentored by Angus Mitchell, Eva Davis-Boermans, Lily Berry and Pearl Mitchell – movers and shakers with environment-based careers who volunteered their time for the weekend. Developed by Eurobodalla Shire Council and sponsored by the Coastwatchers Environment Fund, the weekend program gets budding young environmentalists into the bush while they work through ideas and activities with their mentors.
Eurobodalla Council’s environmental education officer Bernadette Davis said Young Legends was about making a difference in the local community, and beyond.
“Our mentors aim to inspire young people, give them guidance, get them on board for upcoming projects, and help their efforts in making positive environmental change happen,” Ms Davis said.
“The students come away talking about the plans they have and the skills they’ve learnt to turn those plans into reality.”
The Young Legend students included Hayley Thelan, Hayden Loutitt, Karrisa Sydnham, Liarna Miller, Matt Goddard, Tess Poyner, Sarah Burnes, Damia O’Laughlin and Lily Ralston, and represented all of the shire’s high schools.
Over the weekend the Young Legends spent time spotlighting for greater gliders with Council’s natural resource officer Heidi Thomson, and became immersed in local ecosystems with botanist Lily Berry. Ms Davis said it was an opportunity to better understand the local environment and the importance of maintaining and protecting valuable natural assets.
“Other activities included a beach clean-up, learning how to use the Australian Marine Debris Initiatives database, and cyanotype sun printing with native plants,” Ms Davis said.
“We also had some fun, creating a video snapshot of the weekend. Keep an eye out for that on Council’s Facebook page in the near future.”
A biannual event, this is the second time the Young Legends event has run. To learn more about the program, contact Bernadette Davis on 4474 1037 or firstname.lastname@example.org