Significant long term detrimental impacts of Walker Group’s proposed development at Toondah Harbour pose unacceptable risks to the Moreton Bay Marine Park and national environmental values.
That’s what the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said in a submission about Walker Group’s proposed development at Toondah Harbour.
AMCS points out that the proposed development is not for critical infrastructure, since housing and shops can be built on alternative and less sensitive and already disturbed areas.
The AMCS concludes its submission by saying:
We strongly recommend that the Commonwealth reject this proposal.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society is an independent charity, working for more than 50 years to protect Australia’s coasts and ocean wildlife from inappropriate development.
Here is the full text of their submission about proposed development at Toondah Harbour
Moreton Bay Marine Park – too valuable to risk
Cradling the coast of south east Queensland, Moreton Bay Marine Park is a beautiful tapestry of islands, reefs, sheltered inlets and open ocean covering 3400 km2 and stretching 125km from Caloundra to the Gold Coast near the NSW border.
Over the last 150 years, the bay has been exploited for coral mining, sand mining, whaling and commercial fishing, and has been increasingly polluted from coastal development and land based run-off.
In the mid 1960s, strong public opposition arose against plans for a canal estate and further sand mining. Finally, three decades later, after a long community campaign by local conservationists, scientists, tourism groups and educators, the Moreton Bay Marine Park was declared in 1993.
The marine park now has 16% dedicated marine sanctuary zones. A further 8% of the park has conservation status in which limited recreation and commercial activities are permitted but netting and trawling are not. Trawling is not allowed ina further 30% of the park. This is to protect the very high biodiversity values of the area – protecting vulnerable marine species such as turtles, dolphins and dugongs and the habitats they depend on such as sea grasses, coral reefs and mangroves. Sanctuary zones allow fish to spawn and grow, provide unspoilt natural sites for people to visit and offer areas for education and research.
Moreton Bay Marine Park is home to over a thousand species of fish, six of the worlds seven turtle species, three species of dolphin and the dugong. It also contains a myriad of shark and ray species, thousands of mollusc species and an array of other invertebrate wildlife. Throughout the year nine species of whale visit Moreton Bay Marine Mark.
Moreton Bay Marine Park is recognised internationally by the Ramsar Convention for its vitally important role as a feeding and roosting site for migratory and resident shorebirds. many migratory waders travel from as far as Siberia and other places in the Northern Hemisphere to feed on the wildlife throughout Moreton Bay’s extensive mudflats.
Amazingly, Moreton Bay Marine Park is the only place in the world where significant populations of dugongs and turtles can be found close to a major metropolitan centre. The city of Brisbane is incredibly privileged to have this jewel at its doorstep.
Moreton Bay is geographically positioned between the transition zone of both tropical waters and temperate waters and is a relatively shallow marine environment. these characteristics combined with a large input of freshwater, results in a complex and fragile ecosystem that is extremely productive. These factors combine to produce a large variety of environments that allow the coexistence of an extremely diverse range of flora and fauna within the Bay.
The spectacular array of habitats found in Moreton Bay include coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, saltmarshes, rocky reefs and sandy bottoms.
The proposed Toondah Harbour and its damaging impacts such as 40ha of reclamation, dredging and habitat destruction, will have a negative impact on the ecological, social, cultural and economic values of the Moreton Bay Marine Park area.
With respect to EPBC Referral 2017/7939 – Toondah Harbour Development:
1 The development area impacts on the Moreton Bay Ramsar site – it is likely that the Ramsar values will be significantly and negatively impacted.
The proposal involves dredging and reclamation of over 40 hectares of the protected Moreton Bay Ramsar site.
2 A number of EPBC listed species including dugong, green turtle, migratory birds and Illidge’s ant blue butterfly, will likely be impacted negatively by the proposal.
The site contains endangered salt marsh communities. Reclamation and dredging activities occurring over 3-5 years, and increasing boat activity and pollution, will directly impact these EPBC listed species and significant Environmental Values.
The subject site supports dugongs and feeding trails have been noted through adjacent seagrass meadows to the North of the proposed development and dugongs sited feeding 25 metres directly to the east of the Mangrove community found within the Southern section of the subject area. Green turtles are commonly noted feeding on seagrass within the subject area, The subject area is noted for supporting seagrass and mangrove habitat, both habitats are critical to a number of species listed as matters of National Environmental significance, which includes Dugongs, Green Turtle and migratory wader birds. There is a reef (including coral communities) immediately adjacent to the North. The area also supports critical shorebird habitat and a critical migratory roost site is directly adjacent to the subject site to the South. A highly valuable seagrass arewa is located in the northern section and a highly valuable mangrove community is in the southern section. the proposal will cause the loss of endangered salt marsh communities.
3 There are a number of migratory bird species which inhabit the area in and/0r around the proposed reclamation area, most of which is Ramsar protected.
These birds feed and/or roost in these areas. These birds are protected under the EPBC Act. The include the critically endangered Eastern Curlew and the critically endangered Geat Knot, whose numbers have declined substantially in recent years. Australia is also a party to other international agreements designed to protect migratory birds.
4 A significant koala population inhabits the foreshore area included in the proposal, according to locals and koala groups.
5 Destruction of seagrass habitats upon which EPBC listed species are dependent.
The referral documents show that seagrass habitat covers more than half of the ramsar protected wetlands area to be reclaimed under the proposal, which is part of migratory bird feeding grounds and is also important to other species inhabiting the area such as dugongs and turtles, and for fish and prawn breeding and feeding.
6 Light, noise and pollution impacts
Up to 10,000 people are expected to inhabit the proposed 3,600 dwellings to be constructed on the proposal site. This will bring large scale light, noise and physical pollution impacts to surrounding environments and EPBC listed species.
7 The proposed action is not for critical infrastructure. Housing and shops can be built on alternative and less sensitive and already disturbed areas. (‘Critical infrastructure’ has been used to justify destruction of Ramsar wetlands).
There is an unacceptable risk of harm to values of national environmental significance as well as the Moreton Bay Marine Park with this proposal having significant long term detrimental impacts. We strongly recommend that the Commonwealth reject this proposal.
National Marine Campaign Manager
Australian Marine Conservation Society
25 May 2017
Other submissions about Walker Group’s EPBC referral
The Federal Government says that in response to Walker Group’s latest EPBC referral there were 1,419 submissions – 1,411 opposing and eight supporting the project.
Other submissions about Walker Group’s proposed Toondah project are discussed in these Redlands2030 stories: