The Other Side, South Stradbroke Island (Endangered Wave)
Since 2005 a number of proposals for the development of a cruise ship terminal have threatened the iconic beach break, The Other Side (TOS), and surrounding coastal environment at South Stradbroke Island on Queensland's Gold Coast. This unique wave is what it is thanks to an offshore canyon, channeling in swells across the delta of the Nerang River mouth where they peak up, before exploding onto an inner bar that is kept topped up by the seaway sand bypass. It it the combination of all of these factors that turn on the show that is TOS and make it a wave that has to be surfed.
In 2013-15 the Queensland’s State Government considered a proposal for the development of an Integrated Resort including a Casino and Cruise Ship Terminal on Wave break island directly adjacent to TOS. The proposal would involve significant dredging through the Nerang River Delta to allow access to mega cruise ships. In addition to the dredging the project involves a massive land reclamation project, the intensification of development on coastal public land and restrictions on access to TOS from the Spit during cruise ship operations.
For TOS surfers the development of an integrated resort development will restrict access across the seaway and risks negative impacts on the wave as a result of changes to coastal processes from dredging. In 2005 the value of surfing at TOS was estimated at $20 million per year to the local economy.
In 2005 and again in 2015 a massive community protest led by the Save Our Spit Alliance forced the state government to put off their plans.
Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch along with a number of local community groups played a supporting role in this campaign, and will continue to work with the Save Our Spit Alliance to ensure any future proposals are met with opposition.
In 2010 Surfrider Foundation Capricorn Coast Branch representatives joined The Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance (KAFDA) to lend their local resources and knowledge to assist in the prevention of 3 industrial developments, including 2 coal export terminals in the Fitzroy River Delta, Keppel Bay and North Curtis Island within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
The proposed developments included extensive dredging and construction with the potential for signficant negative impacts on the social, environmental and economic fabric of the local area including potential impacts to much loved local surf break ‘The Big Dune’.
Surfrider Foundation representative’s sat on the board of KAFDA and played a supporting role in recruiting local, national and international support to oppose the development. Since the campaign's inception local Surfrider Foundation representatives have been involved in preparing submissions, speaking at community forums, lobbying local, state and federal politicians, attending rallies and concerts and mobilising the local community to take action as apart of the KAFDA.
After a number of years of pressure from KAFDA and other significant community groups and not-for profits, the proponents withdrew their development proposals. KAFDA and local Surfrider representatives are now looking at campaigning for specific legislative protection for the area to ensure any future proposals are unable to be made.
Surfrider Foundation’s Queensland branches are working collaboratively to support campaign initiatives led by the Boomerang Alliance (of which Surfrider Foundation Australia is a member) to lobby for legislative changes to introduce a Container Deposit Recycling Scheme (CDL) in QLD.
The container deposit scheme is a piece of environmental legislation for litter reduction and resource recovery focussing on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, meaning that if someone discards an empty container they forfeit the right to the refund and someone else would benefit by picking it up and collecting that refund.
It is also a piece of legislation that fosters ‘product stewardship’ in which industry is obliged to take greater responsibility for its packaging after it has been sold. In the case of CDL, beverage suppliers must ensure that a system is in place for the recovery and recycling of their empty beverage containers.
South Australia introduced its CDL in 1977, which to this day continues to be a highly successful environmental program.
South Australia leads the nation in the recovery, recycling and litter reduction of beverage containers with a current, overall return rate of 79.5%. With the refund scheme, beverage containers make up only 2.2% of litter.
In 2013–14 nearly 583 million containers (or over $58 million in refunds to the community) were returned to collection depots, representing around 45,000 tonnes of containers that may have otherwise ended up as litter or landfill.
The container deposit scheme also provides a financial benefit to community groups, sporting clubs and charities that collect empty containers for refund. In 2012–13 nearly $60 million was refunded to the community.
A recent survey showed that 98% of respondents support the container deposit scheme with an overwhelming majority perceiving the scheme to be effective in reducing litter, encouraging the recycling and reuse of drink containers as well as reducing the number of containers going to landfill.
South Australians enjoy the convenience of an extensive depot network throughout the metropolitan and regional areas of the state. Many of the 126 approved depots accept a wide range of recyclable materials making them a ‘one stop shop’ for the public.
Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch is tackling the issue of plastic pollution in Burleigh Heads one plastic bag at a time through the implementation of a bag share initiative called Boomerang Bags.
The initiative involves the installation of bag-share, or Boomerang Bag Boxes throughout a target business district. Each box is stocked with re-useable Boomerang Bags for customers to borrow if they have forgotten their own and return on subsequent visits. The availability of free, re-useable bags reduces the need for single-use plastic bags, and the encouragement to ‘Borrow and Bring Back’ works to foster the sustainable mentality of re-use, thereby reducing plastic bag consumption in the long term.
Each Boomerang Bag is hand-made by volunteers from the local community using donated second-hand materials, keeping the initiative local and sustainable.
Burleigh Heads is the first area to effectively implement the initiative which piloted in 2014. Through regular Boomerang Bag sewing bees, the initiative has engaged over 400 volunteers, 5 schools and numerous other community groups in making re-useable Boomerang Bags from recycled materials. The availability of free, re-useable Boomerang Bags in the shopping area of Burleigh Heads is working to reduce customers reliance on plastic bags and foster the sustainable mentality of re-use.
For more information about Boomerang Bags and how to get involved, click here.
Surfrider Foundation Australia believe marine parks are an important mechanism in managing ocean ecology and protecting biodiversity from the beaches to the seas. We have local branches across each bioregion in the reserve network and are actively involved in contributing to the review of Commonwealth Marine Reserves through the development of local and national submissions and actions.
Surfrider Foundation Australia was involved in the original stakeholder discussions during the development and creation of the Commonwealth marine reserve network, and believe that there remain significant gaps and conflicts of zoning in the reserve network.
Volunteers from our local branch network continues to engage with the Commonwealth Marine Reserves community consultation process.
As the result of a fatality at Currumbin Alley on the Gold Coast in 2011 when a surfer was struck by a boat, plus other numerous near misses over the years. Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch worked with Gold Coast Waterway Authority and Gold Coast City Council to develop a Code of Conduct aimed at making surfing safer at the Alley.
The guideline is a concise, common sense approach for all surfers – locals and visitors – of all skill levels which when applied will help make sessions at the Alley a safer and more enjoyable experience for all.
Surfrider's Gold Coast Tweed Branch will continue to work with the Gold Cost Waterway Authority and other surfing stakeholders to refine and promote the Alley's Surfing Code of Conduct.
Most of us are aware that petroleum-based products – including plastics, neoprene & resins - aren't good for the environment. But when you stop and think about it, just about everything a surfer needs to do his or her thing is made from petroleum-based products; boards, wetsuits, deck grips, leashes, even wax!
Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch launched their EcoStoke program in 2014 with the aim to make local surfers more aware about some of these alternative products, and the environmental benefits they have over the industry-standard makes & models.
The program highlights sustainable and alternative products through the ongoing development of a product directory available on the branches local website.
EcoStoke’s main aim is to inform surfers about the alternatives available so you can consider the environment when making product choices. We urge you all to do your own research when making these decisions, and of course let us know what you find out there.
In December 2012, the Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch organised a meeting on Kirra Hill to discuss the need to include a Surf Management Plan as part of the City of Gold Coast's Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013-2030. This meeting was called in response to a number of issues affecting the surf culture and surf amenity on the Gold Coast.
These issues included:
The death of a surfer at Currumbin Alley as a result of a collision with a fishing vessel in 2010 and several other near misses.
Decades of Bring Back Kirra campaigning.
Various cruise ship terminal proposals.
The Palm Beach Shoreline Project.
From that meeting, Dan Ware, Surfrider Foundation Director and Gold Coast Tweed Branch Committee Member, as the lead petitioner, and local councillor/surfer Greg Betts, presented City Council with a petition to proactively address the concerns of overcrowding, increased vessel traffic, dredging, beach nourishment and development. The main thrust of this was to maintain and enhance surfing assets through innovative design of coastal management initiatives.
City Council had little choice but to accept this Surf Management Plan's inclusion into the Ocean Beaches Strategy as City Council's own research has valued the impact of surfing to the economy at more than $3billion annually. City Council also actively promote the development of the surfing industry and seek to attract surfing tourists to the city.
It was decided that the best way forward in order to represent the tens of thousands of recreational surfers on the Gold Coast was to form the Gold Coast Surf Council (GCSC). Surfrider Foundation was strongly represented on the GCSC with Dan Ware elected as Chairperson and Chris Butler as Secretary of that committee.
Surfrider Foundation and the GCSC actively pursued City Council until the Surf Management Plan Advisory Committee (SMPAC) was announced.
The first SMPAC meeting was held with City of Gold Coast representatives in September 2014.
The Surf Management Plan Advisory Committee is represented by the following 8 stakeholders:
Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed Branch
Gold Coast Surf Council
Gold Coast Point Breaks National Surfing Reserves
Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypass Project
World Surf League
Surf Life Saving Queensland
The proposed Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve
Surfrider Foundation representatives continue to campaign both within and outside of SMPAC to ensure a number of issues affecting the surf culture and surf amenity on the Gold Coast are recognised and addressed.