Showing posts from July, 2011

In brief (July 2011)

Recent Research
Recent reasearch from Griffith University indicates that the freshwater shrimp Caridina indistincta and a sympatric freshwater fish Rhadinocentrus ornatus, found only on the East coast of North Stradbroke Island, have genetic heritage dating from the Pleistocene era (~ 100-300 thousand years ago). Interestingly, this coincides with most estimates of the age of the dunal landscapes and indicates just how ancient and unique the island is.

Holiday House Letting Code
Continuing complaints from residents at Point Lookout about noisy behaviour from neighboring holiday tenants have caused the Redland Council to consider regulation of letting in residential areas. At the moment the Voluntary Code of Practice applying to agents is mostly effective but partying tenants in some houses, let by one agent, have frequently come to the attention of police. At the last round table discussion called by Mayor Melva Hobson residents, including FOSI representatives, voiced their concerns.

National Park Declaration Map


Native Title Determination Areas


Criminal charges against Sibelco adjourned again

The company was charged in December 2009 with three summary offences alleging it did not have permits authorising it to remove and sell large quantities of non-mineral sand for landscaping and other purposes. The Court of Appeal has already confirmed that the actions were unlawful. However the company's criminal responsibilty has not been determined. Last month Unimin/ Sibelco was back in the Brisbane Magistrates court for 2 days, this time arguing that the prosecution against it is an abuse of process. The argument continues on November 7, with 3 more days set aside. It will then be almost 3 years since evidence was seized in a raid on Unimin's premises by the defunct EPA and two years since the charges were laid, an unusual delay in the initial hearing of summary charges in the Magistrates Court. Meanwhile, the government still refuses to send all of the evidence to the DPP for assessment of more serious charges, despite senior counsel opinion that there is a prima facie cas…

North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act 2011

As members are well aware, FOSI (and SIMO) have campaigned for the application of the Mineral Resources Act to the expired mining leases, especially the Enterprise Mining Lease 1117 which expired in 2007. With this new NSI Act, the government has bypassed the existing law to extend expired leases. All other expired mining leases in Queensland remain subject to the Mineral Resources Act. The provisions of the MRA, if applied, would not allow more mining to take place on land earmarked for National Park (i.e. at Enterprise Mine and Vance Mine where expired leases were also extended by the Act). The government claims the NSI Act will bring certainty to the ending of mining but it only extended mining onto land it intends to make National Park after it is environmentally devalued. Our two legal opinions can be read on the save straddie website, again under the library-resources tab. FOSI calls on the Queensland Government to amend the relevant sections (Section 11 and Schedule 1) of the N…

January floods and bay health

The January floods have sparked serious concern over the impact of sediment plume on seagrasses, turtles and dugongs in Moreton Bay. With the Port of Brisbane reporting an additional 1 million m3 washed down the river as a result of the flood, there has been a need to check the effect this has had on the bay inhabitants. Green Sea Turtles and Dugongs feed on the seagrasses that thrive in the shallow sand banks and there is a fear that the flood plume may have reduced their food source significantly. Fortunately, according to Healthy Waterways, intial observations have proven positive and the existing dugong and turtle populations appear to be in good condition.
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An end to sand mining, why 14 years and not 6 weeks?

Sand mining stopped on Fraser Island in 6 weeks!
Why does this government need 14 years? In 1976 the Fraser government stopped sand mining in just 6 weeks after banning exports of mineral sand from the island. In contrast, the Bligh Government have enacted laws to extend mining on Stradbroke for 14 more years, sidestepping future use provisions of the Mineral Resources Act, which applies to every other mine in Queensland.

There were cries of gloom and doom and loss of jobs in 1976 just as we are hearing now at Stradbroke. But what happened at Fraser Island? A successful eco-tourism industry was developed, attracting people from all over the world to the World Heritage listed largest sand island in the world. The Fraser Coast has become a thriving residential and tourism area on the back of the island’s fame. No one, I’m sure, has ever looked back wistfully saying ‘if only sand mining had been allowed to continue our lives would have been better’.

Stradbroke Island will prosper once sand…

Erosion at Amity and Point Lookout

Early this year, with the wild weather, dramatic erosion occurred once again at Amity and Point Lookout. In January a large chunk of the Amity foreshore fell into the Rainbow Channel, causing a worrying time for residents, while at Point Lookout all beaches were left denuded of sand and with a number of the fringing casuarinas undermined and collapsed. Erosion does seem to be gaining in intensity and needs to be taken seriously by the powers that be.

Amity has a long history of drastic erosion with the settlement now 100 metres or so inland from where it was first established. On this occasion it was halted by the dumping of about 300 tonnes of rock along the shores. But there are varying views on the long–term prospects and possible remedies and concern about Council consideration of a “planned strategic retreat” strategy.

The Redland City Council is currently developing a Shoreline Erosion Management Plan for Amity. 
There is no such plan for the Point but Councillor Craig Ogilvie …

Marine Plastic Kills Seabirds

Sea birds which forage in the Tasman Sea are eating plastic, thinking it is food and are dying in large numbers on Lord Howe Island. Large amounts of plastic are found in the stomachs of shearwaters and one survey found more than 200 pieces in one bird alone and up to 50 in others. The plastics have very sharp edges and tear their internal organs. Toxic substances bind to this plastic, and mercury, toxic to birds at 4 parts per million, was found to be as high as 30,000ppm. 95% of nesting shearwaters on Lord Howe Island were found to have plastic in their stomachs.

It was thought that the huge N Pacific garbage patch or gyre north of Hawaii, which gathers plastics from N America and Asia, was the source of their problem but the migratory birds had none in their stomachs when they arrived in September. From Lord Howe, they forage in the Tasman Sea off the coast of NSW, Vic and Tasmania and a few months later are found to be full of plastic.

The shearwater numbers have halved since 1970…

The Eighteen Mile Swamp

Swamps fringe the Northern, Eastern and Southern shores of North Stradbroke Island. The Eighteen Mile Swamp, a great trough in the sand lying seaward of the huge dunes of the main sand mass is kept full of fresh water by seepage from the sand mass rather than surface run off. Straddie is the southernmost high dune sand mass in Australia and the second–largest sand island in the world after the World Heritage Listed Fraser Island. This swamp teems with life and interest and is so special that it is included within the Moreton Bay RAMSAR site, recognised as one of the world’s premier wetlands. It is in fact the longest wetland of its type in the world.

It is only this year that it has finally been given the highest form of regulatory protection available in Queensland by being declared National Park. The park has been named NAREE BUDJONG DJARA  by indigenous people on the island who are engaged in its joint management with the state. This level of protection has been a long time coming…

High Court Victory

In the High Court of Australia in Canberra on June 9 the mining company’s final attempt to prolong the mining industry on Stradbroke for another 100 years was rejected. This brings to an end the company's plan to remove and sell large quantities of island sand for construction purposes. The new NSI legislation at least prevents any future application for Council approval.

FOSI, SIMO, native title owners, other conservationists and members of the local community waged a lengthy legal battle and were rewarded with a significant victory.

This proposal involved noisy and polluting trucks roaring through the streets of Dunwich and clogging up the ferry terminal entry point, at a rate of one every three minutes. It also would have meant continued domination of the island by the mining industry long after extractable minerals had run out.

All this impact on safety and peace of islanders and tourists was for the sake of ten jobs! (This figure was contained in the company’s application for…

Island life (July 2011)