Showing posts with label fishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fishing. Show all posts

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Annual Eastern Freshwater Cod three-month fishing closure of the Mann and Nymboida Rivers and their tributaries is now in effect

The Daily Examiner, 3 August 2017, p.3:

Fishing closure

ANGLERS are reminded the annual three-month fishing closure of the Mann and Nymboida Rivers and their tributaries is now in effect.

The closed waters include the Mann River and all of its tributaries upstream of its junction with the Clarence River; and the Nymboida River and all of its tributaries from its junction with the Mann River upstream to Platypus Flat.

The closure does not apply to notified trout waters.

All fishing in the specified area is prohibited until October 31 to enable the endangered Eastern Freshwater Cod to spawn uninterrupted during its breeding season.

There will be an on-the-spot fine of $500 with maximum penalties of up to $44,000 and/or six months of imprisonment upon prosecution.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Surprise, surprise - those Murray-Darling Basin water raiders have slithered over the horizon once more and are eyeing off the Clarence Valley river system yet again

With so little fanfare that much of  Northern Rivers region missed it, the NSW Berejiklian Government reopened the March 2016 inquiry into augmentation of water supply for rural and regional New South Wales on 28 May 2017, with Terms of Reference published in July 2017.

This Upper House inquiry is chaired by Robert Brown MLC, from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and its reporting date has been extended to 30 March 2018. 

Current committee membership is as follows:

Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Chair
Mick Veitch MLC, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Chair
Jeremy Buckingham MLC, The Greens
Rick Colless MLC, The Nationals
Scot MacDonald MLC, Liberal Party
Greg Pearce MLC, Liberal Party
Penny Sharpe MLC, Australian Labor Party
Daniel Mookhey MLC, Australian Labor Party
Paul Green MLC, Christian Democratic Party
* Jeremy Buckingham MLC (Greens)is substituting for Dr Mehreen Faruqui MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
* Matthew Mason-Cox MLC (Liberal)  is substituting for Hon Greg Pearce MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
* Paul Green MLC and Penny Sharpe MLC will be participating for the duration of the inquiry.

A poorly advertised public hearing scheduled for 1 August 2017 in Lismore (with details sent to media on 31 July 2017) excluded Northern Rivers residents from giving evidence unless they represented a small number of invited groups.

It appears the committee had also determined that Clarence Valley Council was to be asked its view on diverting Clarence River system flood water.

Given flood water is already diverted to the purpose built Shannon Creek side dam to ensure a sustainable water supply for the est. 125,103 residents (Census 2016) currently living in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas, there are no prizes for guessing where any additional water diversion would be allocated.

Yes, that paragon of sustainable water mismanagement - the cluster of councils, industries, irrigators and water traders within the Murray-Darling Basin.

It will come as no surprise that Griffith Council is still pursuing a Clarence River dam and divert scheme. North Coast Voices reported on its obsession in August 2016.

This is what the Griffith City Council Deputy mayor, Dino Zappacosta of Zappacosta Estate Wines in Hanwood, told the inquiry on 1 March 2017:

The issue that my committee, Build More Dams, has looked at is that we need more water because farmers are crying out for more water. We need new water. By "new water", I mean water that is not currently being used at all. We looked at various options, including the Clarence Valley area, where millions and millions of megalitres of water flow out into the sea for what seems to be no real benefit at all for the community of the Clarence region, other than for the natural farming land and the fishery industry there.

It soon became apparent that, appart from the notion of free water at the expense of Clarence Valley communities’ social, cultural, aesthetic, environmental and economic values, Griffith Council knew little about how this dam and divert scheme would work.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: You have been talking about the Clarence River diversion scheme. Is it correct that that is essentially restricted to the Mann River subcatchment?

Mr ZAPPACOSTA: To the best of my knowledge, it covers most of the tributaries—for example, the Boyd River, the Mann River, the Nymboida River and the Timbarra River. They are highlighted on map 2, which was provided to the Committee.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: I am a little confused about the way the map reads. It appears as though the water is coming out of the Mann River catchment, which is a subcatchment of the Clarence. The divisions appear to be above the confluence of the Nymboida and the Mann. You recommend a 23 per cent Clarence River diversion, but the question is: What percentage of is that of the Mann River flow and what environmental impact will that have on the Mann River below where it is diverted? We should keep in mind the history of the Snowy River and what has happened there over the past 50 years. Does anybody have any thoughts about that? Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I will have to take on notice exactly how much comes from the Mann River itself.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: What is the reduction in flow from the sub-catchment rivers below where the water is diverted from them? What environmental impacts will that have on those rivers?

Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I appreciate the question. I think what you are asking is something we should dig into a bit deeper; there should be a study of it, preferably a feasibility study.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: There needs to be a lot of work done on this, as you would appreciate.

While the Director of Utilities at Griffith City Council stated:

As an engineer I see the great benefits of supporting a scheme such as the Clarence River diversion scheme, not only from a water augmentation point of view. My directorate covers water supply as well as the flooding impacts caused by rainfall run-off. The Clarence River diversion scheme is not only a supply scheme but a flood mitigation solution, as the general manager mentioned. In my research I have referred to the document entitled Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 produced by BMT WBM consultants. They happen to be the same consultants who undertook our flood study and provided our flood mitigation options. They work across the State and they are well versed in flooding, from the Northern Rivers down to our area.

The Clarence River catchment on the far North Coast of New South Wales is one of the largest catchments on the east coast of Australia. It is approximately 20,000 square kilometres. It is above the towns of Grafton, Maclean and Yamba, and it is home to more than 20,000 people. The lower Clarence Valley has a long history of flooding, since settlement in about 1850. Bear with me as I read out the dates of the flooding events. I was just going to say a number, but it has more of an impact when you follow the years of flooding that the area has endured due to the large catchment that sits above it. Floods were recorded in 1863 and 1864. There was a record flood in 1890 in which two people lost their lives and there was extensive damage to the rural area. Further floods occurred in 1921 and 1928. Since 1945 the incidence of major flooding has been much higher, with floods occurring in 1945, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2001, 2009 and 2013.

There is a regular occurrence of extreme flooding in the Northern Rivers catchment, below the Clarence River. Section 4.4 of the Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 acknowledges that "the river flows originating from upstream of Grafton dominate flooding in the Lower Clarence Valley". Diversion of the Clarence River flows for that area towards the west, and the 25 per cent or 23.8 per cent that will be captured, diverted and controlled, will be of great benefit to flood mitigation in the Northern Rivers area. The document further says that it will maximise the investment from the Government not only to help solve water augmentation issues but to reduce the financial and human impacts flooding has in the northern coastal areas. The Clarence River diversion scheme was documented in 1981 by David Coffey and he estimated costings back then. We have done a projection to a present-day cost of approximately $10 billion. There are statistics on the map that I have provided to the Committee.

The Snowy Mountains scheme would have cost $10 billion in present-day money, so there are similar costings in the schemes. The 1,100 gigalitres diverted per annum from the Clarence River has generated $1.82 billion in agriculture. The scheme means that 23.8 per cent of the flows that would be heading down to flood people can be diverted. When you equate the $550 million a year in flood damages with the cost of a diversion scheme, 1,100 gigalitres can generate $1.8 billion a year in agriculture growth. The additional water means that 118,000 hectares of viable open country can be farmed. The offset of diversion and flood protection is that it is beneficial to all. That is where I will leave it.

The public hearing in Griffith was reported thus by The Area News on 2 March 2017:

HIGH-profile Griffith water users and city officials enjoyed a rare opportunity to sit face-to-face with Members of the NSW Upper House on Wednesday to discuss their handling of water….

The Honourable Rick Colless, The Honourable Paul Green, The Honourable Matthew Mason-Cox and The Honourable Penelope Sharpe were on hand to hear the concerns of the community….

Along with wanting to fix the water sharing plans, the other hot topic was the Clarence River Scheme, initially conceptualised by David Coffey in the 1970s.

The plan outlined diverting river flows westward from high rainfall catchments in the Northern Rivers.

According to Griffith City Council, the scheme will benefit lands south of the Dumaresq River while also providing flows into the Murray River, reducing the reliance for Murray-Darling Basin allocations to fill the original allocation to the basin. 

“We have looked at various options and we look at the Clarence Valley area where there are millions of millions of megalitres of water flowing out into the sea for what seems to be for no real benefit,” Councilor Dino Zappacosta said.

Griffith City Council general manager, Brett Stonestreet said it’s time the scheme is looked at again.

“It provides new water to give this state another shot in the arm,” he said.

“It also looks at potentially reducing flooding impact of the coastal communities adjacent to the Clarence by 25 per cent.

“There is a huge amount of money that can be generated and inland communities rediscovered and regenerated through new water.”

Mayor Dal Broi was pleased with how the inquiry was conducted and the feedback from the Senators.

“Some of the questions that were asked by the panel members, we know now what they are thinking,” he said.

“They were very receptive to the concept of new water so whether it's the diversion of the Clarence or lifting the wall on Burrinjuck Dam ... they were very receptive to that because we tried to make the point that the limited resources at the moment.”

“We need new water if our regions are to grow and have a better long-term sustainable allocation.”

Not content with bringing down the largest river system in Australia in order to line their own pockets, these wanabee water raiders just keep on coming after what they see as more 'free' water for the rorting.

Clarence Valley Council gave evidence at the re-opened inquiry on 1 August and the only question of interest to the water raiders came after a few minutes of questioning at Page 26 of the Lismore public hearing transcript:

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Thank you for your submission. In your submission you talk about this idea of diversion of the Clarence River to west of the Great Dividing Range. Could you give us a bit of a background on that proposal and what your council thinks about it?

Mr ANDERSON: I will start but Mr Mashiah might finish. Our council has resolved six times that they do not support the diversion of the Clarence, and each time that has been unanimous in regard to council's position. That is based on the fact that damage to the environment and the ecological systems that work within the Clarence River emerge from there. 

The CHAIR [Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party]: You probably cannot answer this, but that is an all-encompassing position of council?


The CHAIR : I wonder what the council's position would be on the diversion of floodwaters only.

Mr ANDERSON: Again, Mr Chair, like you said, I cannot answer that question.

The CHAIR: What I am asking you is that I guess the council's resolutions were not burrowed down to that extent to be able to answer that question. We might ask Clarence council for an opinion on that.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Are those decisions supported by an independent side to pick advice? How were they derived?

Mr MASHIAH: There was a Healthy Rivers Commission inquiry into the Clarence in I think it was 1999, from memory, and part of the outcome of that commission inquiry was the importance of regular flood events in terms of the fishing industry and also the cane industry. I believe you have representatives from the cane industry here with us later.

The CHAIR: This afternoon, yes.

Mr MASHIAH: And also in terms of fisheries, one of the aspects that Clarence Valley Council has been active in for the past 20 years is trying to manage the floodplain to address issues such as acid runoff.

The CHAIR: Solid sulfate soils.

Mr MASHIAH: As the sulfate soils and particular acids run off. So we have done things like open floodgates and—

The CHAIR: And you should be congratulated.

Mr MASHIAH: Thank you, Mr Chair, for that. I will pass that on to the relevant staff who have been coordinating that. The regular flushing of those areas, which are fish breeding grounds, by floodwaters is very important. So if floods were diverted there are significant concerns from the fishing industry about the ongoing viability of the industry because the grounds where fish breed, according to the studies that have been undertaken, would then be adversely impacted. So that is one of the reasons that the fishing industry has very strongly opposed, through our estuary management committee in particular and through the estuary management plan, any diversion of water and we have tried to ensure that the fish breeding grounds are protected.

The CHAIR: I just made the observation that most of those fish breeding grounds would not be the same areas of land that are subject to high residential development or business or commercial or other aspects. In other words, you are not talking about the township of Grafton itself, you are talking river peripheries, flooded-out areas, for breeding concerns?

Mr MASHIAH: The challenge is that the urban footprint on the lower Clarence floodplain is probably about 1 to 2 per cent of the total surface area and all the urban areas are surrounded by rural areas. So it is very hard to work out how you manage that 1 or 2 per cent without adversely impacting the other 98 per cent, or vice versa, how do you manage the 98 per cent without adversely impacting 1 or 2 per cent of urban area?

The CHAIR: The 2013 flood, you have described it as a major flood, correct?

Mr MASHIAH: It was the flood of record at Grafton.

The CHAIR: I am wondering how the 2013 flood would have enhanced the fishery on the Clarence?

Mr MASHIAH: The main issue with the 2013 flood—I guess with any flood in the Clarence the flood behaviour in the upper river is a lot different to the flood behaviour in the lower river because of the tidal influences in particular and also how wet the floodplain is already. The 2013 event was actually three floods.

The CHAIR: And they rolled up on each other?

Mr MASHIAH: Yes, within a three-week period—quite distinct flood events.

The CHAIR: So it was a prolonged flood.

Mr MASHIAH: It was a prolonged flood and that meant there was significant inundation of back swamp areas, and I understand that there were some areas that effectively were areas that were flushed that had not been flushed in floods probably since 2001, so it is probably 12 years. So from an ecological perspective, talking to our environmental scientists, I understand that it was actually quite beneficial because the bigger floods only get into those areas once every 10 to 20 years.

The CHAIR: Were there any concurrent blackwater events for the fishery?

Mr MASHIAH: Not that I can recall, and I think that is a result of the management measures that have been undertaken on the floodplain because most of the farmers now operate the floodgates and so only shut the floodgates when there is actually a flood coming and open them fairly soon afterwards.

The CHAIR: So it is their responsibility to operate their own floodgates, is it?

Mr MASHIAH: That has been passed on to them, yes.

The CHAIR: Do you have any oversight of that?

Mr ANDERSON: Yes, we do, and we work with those groups and undertake training et cetera . It is a two-way street of communication: they tell us what they need and, vice versa, we provide training associated with that and inductions and operate that through a number of committees et cetera as well.

Evidence was also given by the NSW Professional Fishermen’s Association (commencing Page 38) the NSW Canegrowers Association (commencing Page 45) and the Clarence Environment Centre (commencing Page 56).

One has to wonder why the committee members of this reformed Water Augmentation Inquiry didn't seek the views of those holding Native Title (See Yaegl People #1 Yaegl People #2) over the Clarence River from the waters approximately half-way between Ulmarra and Brushgrove right down to the eastern extremities of the northern and southern breakwater walls at the mouth of the river.

After all they are significant stakeholders in any discussion of water policy and water management in the Clarence River catchment area.

The other matter of note, arising from North Coast Voices somewhat belated discovery that the water raiders were back on the scene, is the suggestion that not all Clarence Valley councillors had forewarning that council staff were appearing before the inquiry on 1 August.

If true this would be a disturbing indication that council administration has retained some of the bad habits it acquired under the former general manager who was handed his hat in March this year.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Dutch-owned 'super' trawler "Geelong Star" has left Australian waters and will not be returning

Save Our Marine Life is celebrating the fact that the Dutch-owned factory trawler Geelong Star has left Australian waters and will not be returning.

The trawler has removed its Australian flag of convenience and been reflagged as Dutch – in the process its old name KW 172 Dirk Dirk has been re-instated.

ABC News reported on 24 November 2016 that:

The ship's departure came just before Labor and Greens members on a Senate committee recommended all mid-water trawlers be banned from fishing in Australian waters.

The committee had been investigating the environmental, social and economic impacts of super trawlers.

In 2012, ships known as super trawlers were prohibited from fishing in Australian waters, but the ban only applied to vessels over 130 metres, and not the Geelong Star, which is 95 metres.

Labor and Greens committee members also urged the Federal Government to appoint a National Recreational Fishing Council.

The report said public confidence in the management of Australia's fisheries needed to be enhanced, and it suggested the Australian Fisheries Management Authority publish information about fishing activity in the Small Pelagic Fishery regularly, such as bycatch quantities.

Liberal Senators Jonathon Duniam and David Bushby dissented from the recommendations, and said the Government was "committed to maintaining a balanced and science-based approach to all decisions regarding access to Commonwealth fisheries".

The Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications report into the Environmental, social and economic impacts of large-capacity fishing vessels commonly known as 'Supertrawlers' operating in Australia's marine jurisdiction was published in November 2016.

The Committee report stated:
1.46 The FV Geelong Star commenced fishing in the SPF on 2 April 2015.40 The Geelong Star is a 3181 tonne factory freezer vessel with a hold capacity of 1061 tonnes. At 95.18 metres, the Geelong Star is the longest fishing vessel in the AFZ.41
1.47 The operation of the Geelong Star in the SPF is a joint enterprise between Seafish Tasmania and Dutch company Parlevliet & Van der Plas BV and its Australian subsidiary, Seafish Tasmania Pelagic Pty Ltd.42 The fish caught by the Geelong Star is shipped to export markets, usually in West Africa.43
1.48 AFMA was notified that Seafish Tasmania had nominated the Geelong Star to fish its concessions in the SPF on 12 February 2015. Following registration of the Geelong Star as an Australian-flagged boat by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority,44 AFMA confirmed that the vessel met its requirements. The Geelong Star commenced fishing in the SPF on 2 April 2015. As the Geelong Star is less than 130 metres in length, it is not affected by the ban introduced by the government in April 2015….
1.50 Since it commenced operating, AFMA has initiated various regulatory measures in response to mortalities of protected species caused by the operations of the Geelong Star. Various stakeholders are also concerned about the effect of the trawler's operations on other commercial fishing operations and recreational fishing activities. Both the fishing activities of the Geelong Star and the regulatory approach taken by AFMA have attracted controversy. 
1.51 Environmental non-government organisations expressed opposition to the activities of the Geelong Star and the approach taken to managing the SPF. Environment Tasmania and the Australian Marine Conservation Society both called on the government to 'enact a permanent ban on the operation of factory freezer trawlers in the Small Pelagic Fishery'.45 The Conservation Council SA provided a list of recommendations regarding potential localised depletion, adverse environmental effects, how to minimise impacts on protected species and the presence of AFMA observers on the vessel. The Conservation Council SA called for vessels such as the Geelong Star to be banned from the fishery 'until management strategies', including the recommendations outlined in its submission, 'are in place to effectively minimise impacts on protected species'.46
1.52 Recreational fishing interests are another key stakeholder group. Submitters in this group expressed concern about potential repercussions for the Australian recreational fishing sector from the operations of the Geelong Star. The Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF) called for a moratorium on 'industry scale' fishing in areas of the SPF that are of concern to the recreational fishing sector. The ARFF argued that this moratorium should remain in place 'until a comprehensive assessment has been conducted to determine whether industrial scale fishing of the SPF is the highest and best use of the SPF, in our nation's interest and whether the small pelagic fishery should be commercially fished at all'.47
1.53 Seafish Tasmania, the operator of the Geelong Star, argued that the use of a factory freezer trawler such as the Geelong Star is the only way that operations in the SPF can be commercially viable. Seafish Tasmania also advised that, over 11 years, it has worked within the regulatory arrangements to assist in developing management plans and strategies 'that support the sustainable management of the SPF'.48 Seafish Tasmania added: 
The current management regime in the SPF, and in particular the conditions applied to the Geelong Star, are extremely strict. Clearly, they are designed  
to provide a high degree of public confidence that the operations of the vessel are being closely monitored and managed.49
1.54 Seafish Tasmania concluded: 
The company has made substantial investments in supporting scientific surveys and more recently in bringing freezer trawlers from Europe to catch our quota and to produce high quality fish for human consumption. It is time to let us get on with the job of catching our quota.50
1.55 Seafish Tasmania and the Small Pelagic Fishery Industry Association (SPFIA) also argued that the science-based management of the fishery and the statutory fishing rights associated with the vessel should be respected. For example, the SPFIA submitted: 
The impact of the continued political interventions in the management of the Small Pelagic Fishery is being felt well beyond the confines of this Association. Although SPF quota holders are effectively the primary target of the political attacks, there is widespread erosion of industry confidence in the ability of AFMA to manage fisheries in an independent, non-political and science based manner. Consequently, industry confidence in the quality and security of their Statutory Fishing Rights is being steadily undermined. 
In these destabilising circumstances, it should not be surprising if industry were to take a shorter term view of their investments reflecting the increased political risk being faced. This is exactly the situation that Government sought to avoid by providing the fishing industry with well defined, long term secure fishing rights to inspire operators to take economically responsible decisions and to look after the marine resources on which their businesses depend.51
1.56 Other commercial fishing interests urged the committee and other interested stakeholders to separate concerns about factory freezer vessels operating in the SPF, where resource sharing issues involving recreational fishers are important, and the operation of factory freezer trawlers in other fisheries. Petuna Sealord Deepwater Fishing, which has operated a factory freezer vessel in the blue grenadier fishery since 1988, urged the committee to separate 'what we see are two dissimilar issues', namely concerns about 'super trawlers' in the SPF and the operation of factory freezer trawlers elsewhere. It explained: 
The current community concern which has led to this inquiry is not necessary driven by the size or freezing capacity of the vessel or the science of the fishery, as evidenced in the blue grenadier fishery, but centres around resource sharing and access to a fish species that recreational fishers consider is a significant driver in maintaining healthy populations of key recreational species.52……..
1.62 The Geelong Star is 95 metres long and, therefore, is not covered by the 130-metre definition of super trawler used for the ban. Nevertheless, the Geelong Star has commonly been referred to as a super trawler, including by the media and state governments.58 In addition, some of the concerns expressed by groups that opposed the Margiris have similarly been applied to the Geelong Star. Some submitters also argued that there is only a marginal difference in the quota allocated to the Abel Tasman, which was banned, and vessels such as the Geelong Star that are not.59 Other submitters, however, maintain that 'there is no correlation between vessel size and fishing power'.60
1.63 On this issue, Mr Allan Hansard, Managing Director, Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation, commented: 'It is not necessarily the size of the boat; it is that intensity that we need to really focus on in this case'.61
1.64 From the perspective of the Stop the Trawler Alliance, which is an alliance of environment, fishing and tourism organisations established in 2012 in response to the Margiris, the principal issue is that a factory freezer vessel is operating in the SPF, not that a vessel of a certain size is operating.62......
The end result was this:
Recommendation 1 
6.22 The committee recommends that the Australian government ban all factory freezer mid-water trawlers from operating in the Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery.
The full report can be read here.

Because the recommendation is not yet reflected in legislation and because there is some uncertainty about the reasons the trawler vacated Australian waters as well as a fear it may eventually return, concerned people should write to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce MP and Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston who have portfolio responsibility for fisheries management and to their federal MP calling on government to permanently ban all freezer mid-water trawlers from operating in Australian Small Pelagic Fisheries.

Save Our Marine Life has started a petition here. 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Fishers not in favour of Australian Infrastructure Developments' plan to industrialise the Clarence River estuary

Fishing World, 2 August 2016:

THE Clarence River port of Yamba in Northern NSW has been proposed for a huge development that would see it potentially become one of the country's biggest ports.

The $12 billion takeover would see about 36 sq. km of infrastructure development along the Clarence covering approximately 27 per cent of the estuary system, according to the No Yamba Mega Port Facebook page.

River dredging would be required to a depth of 18m from the mouth through to Harwood Bridge with the complete removal of Turkey, Gourd and Palm Islands.

The project would also require the removal of two of NSW's most iconic fishing breakwalls, Iluka and Yamba walls, which lie on the North and South Banks of the Clarence River.

The company behind the proposal, Australian Infrastructure Developments (AID), states on its website that the first stages of the Port Development Plan will be open for trade by 2023 and be in full operation by 2028.

The website also lists “unconstrained land-side access for future long-term expansion” as a location specific advantage for the Port of Yamba project.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Des Euen warned off Yamba by an online supporter

Not that Des Euen needed any hint that many Yamba and Iluka residents would be against the industrialisation of the Clarence River estuary…..

Facebook, 23 June 2016

Mr. Euen is rather sensitive about the few comments on the Australian Infrastructure Developments Pty Ltd Facebook page.

He recently removed comments from two Clarence Valley residents (at least one of whom attended the “summit” he organised at Casino on 2 June 2016) but left his accusations of selfishness against individuals living in the region which would be most affected by this highhanded attempt to make his fortune at the expense of so many ordinary people.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Fish n Chips not Mega Ships!

"All the major economic sectors in the lower Clarence Valley are dependent to a considerable extent on understanding and protecting the estuary’s and floodplain’s natural processes and values." [DLWC, Umwelt (Australia Pty Ltd, 2003, Clarence Estuary Management Plan: The Clarence Estuary - A Valued Asset]

The economic value of tourism is worth an est. $239.4 million per annum to the Clarence Valley with recreational fishing forming a significant part of the region's income and, in 2010 the commercial fishing industry was worth an est. $92 million annually to the valley.

The economies of the three main towns in the Clarence River estuary are heavily based on commercial and recreational fishing and water-based tourism, with Yamba and Iluka being principal holiday destinations.

Boating is a major recreational activity, with 90% of recreational boating related to fishing and 61% involving retired people. [Clarence Valley Council, 2003]

Fresh seafood caught locally forms part of the staple diet for many Lower Clarence households.

These are the faces of some of the people who threw a line in the last two months:

Bluff Beach, 10 June 2016

Catch at Moriaty’s Wall, 8 June 2016

26 May 2016

31 May 2016

Iluka Beach, 18 May 2016

Off the break wall, 8 June 2016

Brown's Rock, 16 June 2016

[Images from Iluka Bait & Tackle]

However, Australia Infrastructure Developments Pty Ltd and Deakin Capital Pty Ltd - along with Messrs. Des Euen, Thomas Chui, Lee and Nigel Purves - want to destroy this great year-round and holiday lifestyle by lobbying government to allow the 
construction of a large industrial port covering over 27 per cent of the Clarence River estuary.

Thereby severely compromising lower river commercial and recreational fishing grounds with the constant movement in and out of the river of mega ships such as these:

[North Coast Voices, February 2016]

With their bow wave and propeller wash sucking at known seagrass beds as well as riverbanks along the main estuary channels as they pass. 

Many of us who live on the river are firmly of the belief that we would rather have

“Fish n Chips not Mega Ships!”

Brief Background

Long before the arrival of Europeans in the area, local Bundjalung people were fishing the waters of the 'big river' for oysters and fish, as evidenced by the large middens found along the river banks and coastline. The first settlers to the area found a bountiful river surrounded by dense subtropical forests and swamps flowing out to the coastline. Fish were easy to come by and made up an important food source for the early settlers who set about developing forestry and farming in the area. Grafton was established in the 1850’s with the river being a principal source of transport. The introduction of sheep grazing to the area occurred in the late 1850’s and sugar cane farming was carried out as early as 1868 (Anon, 1980a). A small commercial fishery had its beginnings in 1862 when fish were caught to supply workers and their families employed in the construction of the river entrance works. This major project was designed to provide safe navigation for the coastal steamers that traded upriver. Commercial fishermen were supplying fish to the local market by the 1870’s, particularly seasonal fishing for mullet, which was an important local industry supplying the Grafton market (Anon, 1880). The fishing industry began in earnest in 1884 when shipments of fish were sent to Sydney twice a week, weather permitting. The fish, mainly whiting, bream, flat tailed mullet and flathead were packed in ice in large insulated boxes. The boxes were then reused to bring ice on the return trip (Anon, 1994). [Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, A socio—economic evaluation of the commercial fishing industry in the Ballina, Clarence and Coffs Harbour regions, 2009]

o   The commercial industry in Northern NSW provides about one-third of the product (fish) landed in the whole of NSW.
o   An assessment of fish stocks in NSW indicated most fisheries are probably sustainable but that there should be no expansion of catches.
o  The economic modelling results demonstrated that the industry provides quantifiable economic benefits to the Northern NSW region in the form of output, income, employment and value added (gross regional product).
o  The combined harvesting and processing sectors of the industry in Northern NSW provided total flow-on effects of $216 million derived from output, $36.1 million in income, 933 employment positions and $75.5 million in value added.
o   Two-thirds of the money generated by the operation of the industry is spent in the local and regional economies.
o   Commercial fishing activity in the Clarence River occurs in the Estuary General and Estuary Trawl Fisheries.
o   The ocean fleet has home port facilities in both Yamba and Iluka.
o   The Clarence River Fishermen's Co-op operates two depots with Maclean primarily processing catch from the river fishery and Iluka processing catch from the offshore fishery.
o   Ocean Hauling was one of the earliest fisheries to be utilised on the beaches in the Clarence district and continues to be an important fishery in the area.
[Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, 2009 & Clarence Valley Council, 2016]

o   In 2010 Clarence Valley Council estimates that the commercial fishing industry is now worth over $92 million and generates over 430 jobs, while the recreational fishing industry which forms a large part of the $280 million tourism industry in the Valley generates much of the economic base of Yamba, Iluka and Maclean.
o   Due to tourism Yamba and Iluka regularly double their population during major holiday periods and many retired and family holiday makers are thought to be drawn to the area by fishing and other recreational opportunities on the river.
o   Commercial ocean fish and crustacean species both breed and feed in the Clarence River estuary system.
[J.M. Melville, Submission to the Inquiry into the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on Regional Australia, No. 177, December 2010]

All the major economic sectors in the lower Clarence Valley are dependent to a considerable extent on understanding and protecting the estuary’s and floodplain’s natural processes and values…..
The outstanding threat nominated by the Maclean group was population growth and urban development, particularly where this is located close to the estuary. This is an interesting result, given that the Clarence overall is not an urbanised waterway. It may reflect the rapid changes that are occurring in Yamba, and the view in the community that further growth in this area will require major sustainability issues to be addressed. The appropriate growth rate and style of development in Yamba has been a major source of discussion for residents in the lower Clarence, especially in response to Council’s interpretation of the results of its community survey on the future of Yamba. Several other frequently nominated threats were examples of the types of threats that are associated with poorly managed urban growth that exceeds the capability of the natural system. Declining health of the estuary (from any cause) was perceived as a major threat by the lower Clarence community, acknowledging the high economic dependence on estuary health in this area.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

President of the Casino Chamber of Commerce, Luke Bodley, lends his support to proposed environmental vandalism on a large scale

Des Euen and ‘friend’ on the Iluka side of the Clarence River mouth at an unspecified date

There is obviously one born every minute somewhere in the world and on 26 May 2016 it was the turn of the National Party's Luke Bodley of Realo Group Pty Ltd to step into the limelight and be recognised .

Here he is on Facebook promoting a proposal to destroy existing environmental, cultural, social and economic values in the Clarence River estuary:

And who is he doing this promotion for? Why for a $1 shelf company, with no apparent business address (instead using the address of the Minter Group), no listed business phone number and, most importantly,  no local, state or federal government support.

A phantom-like company which states it has had international development funding approved for five inter-related projects est. to cost $42.7 billion in total.

Projects which appear to still be mere sketches on the back of envelopes if this plan for a large industrial port is any indication:

Figure 1 shows a port precinct which covers an est. 27.2 % of the entire Clarence River estuary

According to Mr. Euen the indicative timeline will see Stage 1 of this approx. 36 sq km super-port operational sometime in 2018 - even though not one of the required in-depth reports has been generated to date by AID Australia, no planning application has been submitted yet and no comprehensive surveying undertaken. He laughably states the entire proposed port infrastructure will be completed in around twelve years.

I wonder if Mr. Bodley has ever puzzled over the fact that there is no roar of support emanating from the Clarence Valley for these personal projects of former Queensland truck driver Desmond John Thomas Euen?

Has he thought about why an infrastructure 'plan' that has been hawked around the country for at least the last four to five years has been unable to gain official support in all that time from either local, state or federal governments?

Or wondered why Euen isn't holding his "summit" in the area covered by the lynch-pin in his grandiose plan, the Lower Clarence?

Perhaps this Google Earth snapshot of what the lowest section of the Clarence River estuary looks like today might give him a hint:

What this image shows is a river from the mouth to Harwood which has been held under Native Title since 2015 and an approach to the river partially blocked by a culturally & spiritually significant coffee rock reef which is the indigenous ancestor Dirrangun.

It shows the base for the largest commercial river & offshore fishery in NSW (generating in excess of an est. $92M output and $15.4M annual income) which supports a fleet moored on both the Iluka and Yamba sides of the river and as far up as Maclean.

There are also oyster leases and aquaculture ponds within the estuary.

This snapshot covers part of the range of one of only two river-dwelling dolphin pods on the east coast of Australia and one which successfully co-exists with the tourism-reliant small towns of Yamba, Iluka and Maclean, as well as with the many domestic and international yachts and other pleasure boats which use the lower river.

The green is this image predominately comprises cane farms, extensive national parks, dedicated foreshore nature reserves and one of this country’s few World Heritage areas, a 136 ha remnant of the ancient Gondwanna subtropical rainforests proclaimed by the United Nations in 1986.

In 2006-07 the people of the Clarence Valley successfully fought off a Howard Government proposal to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment for the benefit of mining, agricultural irrigation and land development interests in the Murray Darling Basin and southern Queensland.

That fight was part of the reason why Australia’s federal government changed in 2007.

As late as 30 May 2016 Nationals MP for Clarence and Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast, Chris Gulapatis, has this to say in response to Euen's scheming:

While even Des Euen himself recently told The Daily Examiner that it is NSW Government policy to direct import-export sea freight to the major ports of Port Jackson, Port Botany, Port Kembla and the Port of Newcastle.


North Coast Voices received this email today:

North Coast Voices Blog - Correction of information required

From: redacted []
Sent: Wednesday, 8 June 2016 1:59 PM
Cc: Darren Perkins
Subject: North Coast Voices Blog - Correction of information required

Good afternoon,

With regard to the below blog link for North Coast Voices, Luke Bodley ceased employment with GNF Real Estate Pty Ltd on the 28th April 2016. We request that the mention of George & Fuhrmann Real Estate be removed from the article.

Darren Perkins
Managing Director

George & Fuhrmann

However Luke Bodley was still listed as part of this real estate company's Casino staff as at 2.28PM on 8 June 2016:

When there is public evidence online that Mr. Bodley is no longer associated with this company the mention will be removed from the body of the post, but the correspondence and comment will remain.