ENDANGERED WAVES UPDATE 18 NOVEMBER 2019

Australia’s newest waves in danger are at YAMBA, ‘THE FARM’ & GOOLAWAH. At a quick glance around the country.., The Great Australian Bight is one step closer to risky drilling, Stockton Beach is literally disappearing before our eyes, an ominous stillness in the waters around Martha Lavinia & an indicative design released for the South Newcastle Beach skate park. Amongst these and other important fights, stand up for your wave with Surfrider.

Currently in Australia threats to our coastlines and the overall surfing experience include Coastal Developments, Accessibility or Overcrowding, Polluted Water, Ecosystem.  Surfrider Foundations Endangered Wave Campaign aims to highlight these threats endangering a number of Australia’s most unique and fragile surfing and coastal environments.

 

NEW ADDITIONS TO ENDANGERED WAVES LIST

 

YAMBA - NSW

Threats: Ecosystem Threats; Polluted Water

 

Yamba and the surrounding waterways and coastlines including Iluka and Angourie (a national surfing reserve) are an iconic stretch of coastline of pumping waves that are under threat from proposed dam and mining activities surrounding the Clarence River. There are many exploratory licences currently in place looking for minerals in the area and granted to function they would impose unacceptable risks to the health of local waterways.  An ecological and economical disaster awaits should there be toxic run off pollution and also changes to natural water flow.  Surfers, paddlers, fishermen/women, beach and ocean enthusiasts alike would feel and see the impacts firsthand.

"As surfers we are strongly connected to the areas where our rivers meet the sea. The Clarence River is under threat, as is the playground of world class waves at the end of it. Toxic copper mines do not belong near rivers and precious water sources and in these times of extreme drought, healthy water should be our highest priority.

I’m proud to live in the Northern Rivers amongst such great communities. There is so much power in joining together to look after the things we love.” Dan Ross

Surfrider Foundation is rallying support behind the local surfers, community and Clarence Catchment Alliance to help protect and conserve this epic coastline. There is an old school petition that you can fill out as the initial call to action. 4,000 of the 10,000 signatures needed have been scribed so far, for the local MP to table it at parliament.  It’s time to stand up for the mighty Clarence and the awesome coastline surrounding.  Here’s the link to the petition: https://imgur.com/JeB5hid?fbclid=IwAR1xekeE-6eWqXXYZ52zhOGlR-YM8k_HnhhvCdJJjq6QDvyBefsrJPrxhk8  As future action is required, we will be there on the beach, online and in the halls of ‘authority’ to stand up for the coast. Check out this great video featuring Hayley Talbot, Dan Ross & Dave Rasta: https://vimeo.com/366183369

"We are burning right now (tragic NSW fires Nov 2019). Our valley is on fire and our homes and biodiversity are going up in smoke with no end in sight. The ridge line in the upper Clarence Catchment dubbed "Cobalt Ridge" due to its ore grades is currently alight. As we have always said, this is no place for open cut mining activity. There is no safe way to mine in the remote Clarence catchment. We are witnessing the fruition of the risks right now. If the mine was operational it would be burning. There is no way to prevent toxic tailings leaching into our river and ocean ecosystems on ridge lines so steeply angled into the river and its tributaries. Fires can't read the "reviews of environmental factors" (required to obtain a Production Licence) and they certainly don't care to follow them. Systems fail. We will not roll the dice on our home for the greed of a small few."  Hayley Talbot.

 

GOOLAWAH – Crescent Head, NSW

(Backbeaches from Raceourse to Pt Plomer)

Threats: Developments; Accessibility / Overcrowding

 

In January 2019, 300+ locals marched along Point Plomer Rd in protest of the decision made by Kempsey Shire Council, without consultation, to tar the remaining sections of unsealed road.  The Kempsey Council plan to tar the remaining 6.2kms of dirt road leading to iconic and relatively secluded back beaches.  Without community or indigenous consultation, with haste to get a grant from NSW government to complete it citing road safety concerns and maintenance costs. Tarring of the road was rejected in 2003 when the region’s rich heritage and significant Aboriginal sites were identified. Forward to 2019 where the proposal is back again, but local residents and Dunghutti elders say council has made the decision to tar with no consultation.  Promises to respect local indigenous wishes seem to be forgotten after 16years.

The issues for surfers relate to changing the entire surfing experience.  Once this road is tarred there will no doubt be a large increase in visitors to this coast as access is made ‘easy’.  There is already the situation where there is often over 100+ surfers at Crescent point, but you can then jump in your car and head down the country road and surf with a few of your mates.  This is why Surfrider Foundation are stepping up to voice our concerns and support the community of Crescent Head. It’s obvious just how special a stretch of surfable coast this is in most conditions, and particularly the role of the dirt road in limiting the number of people surfing and using the area. It limits users to those that have the means and/or patience to deal with the corrugations and dust. We need to keep special places like this. There will be an increase in environmental impacts associated with the increased visitation, traffic and waste.  As already there are periods of the year where the place is full.  An increase in visitor numbers will only place more pressure on this biodiversity hot spot, this will particularly be the case with day visitors.  Resealing the road will take away the very element that is appealing.   Plus, will sealing the road, open opportunities up for further development?… well we’ve seen this happen in many other parts of the country. 

Surfrider stands united with those opposed to sealing Plomer Rd and keeping the appeal of a mostly untouched environment for surfing and enjoying a magic part of our coastline.

There is a march planned for December 29, 2019, heading from Crescent Head community hall to Big Hill, starting at 7:30am.  Join us in demonstrating to Kempsey Council and all potential future developers that we must keep paradise as it is. 

 

THE FARM – Shellharbour NSW

Threats: Developments; Accessibility / Overcrowding

Disrupted environmental visual amenity to the farm NSR surfing

The Killalea State Park is a spectacular coastal Crown land reserve that is dedicated to public recreation amidst the increasing hustle and bustle of the rapidly growing Shellharbour City LGA... available for surfing, fishing, picnics, bushwalking, outdoor recreation activities and camping. Killalea State Park has two extremely popular and iconic surf beaches - Killalea Beach or 'The Farm' and Minnamurra Beach known as 'Mystics'. In 2007 the Save Killalea Alliance was formed to fight a $35 million development that would have seen 106 accommodation lodges built on the site the Killalea state park. In 2009, the two Surf-beaches inside Killalea State Park Reserve were dedicated National Surfing Reserve status with the vision of countering thoughtless development and saving these unique surf breaks and the surf culture that has been built around them due to the consistent wave quality and majestic natural environment for future generations. “We like it as it is; beautiful, unspoiled and affordable.”

In 2016, The NSW Government announced the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust would take over management of Killalea State Park in early 2017, replacing the local Killalea State Park Community Trust. Kiama MP Gareth Ward said that was the right time to make a transition to “full-time, professional management”

Forward to Friday 18th October 2019. Mr Ward then announced the NSW Government had awarded a $6.5 million grant to upgrade the Killalea reserve park, run by the Reflections Holiday Parks group which will also invest $4.4 million into the project.  As well as 15 luxury eco-cabins, a 200-seat function centre, commercial kitchen, reception/shop and restaurant/cafe.  The redevelopment would include 53 fully-serviced campsites, a new playground, walking trails and outdoor recreational equipment.

“Without extensive community consultation and an adherence to Crown, Killalea and National Surfing Reserve ethos along with the intention to ultimately benefit the greater good, the current development proposal is to be rejected”

Chris Homer – Chair, Killalea National Surfing Reserve Committee / Surfrider SouthCoast Representative.

Surfrider Foundation objects to the use of this public space and reserve to be developed, and with a massive donation of public funds no less.  A grant for what appears to be a commercial revenue raising enterprise?.. Changes to the landscape with a function centre and increased flow of traffic, new tourism and commercial interest will change the overall experience, especially the surfing and natural experiences, of a place supposed to be safeguarded by the reserves that are in place.

We can make it fail once more.  Please sign and share the petition amongst like minded Illawarra locals and friends: http://chng.it/5PpqzSYJyq  Alternatively, email MP Gareth Ward yourself to voice your displeasure at kiama@parliament.nsw.gov.au

 

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

The Entire Southern Australian Coastline, inc – WA, SA, VIC, TAS, NSW

Threats: Polluted Water; Eco System Threats.  Offshore drilling

The Great Australian Bight is no place for risky deepwater drilling.  Most people will probably remember images of BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion in the US.  It was an environmental disaster, spewing millions of litres of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed Equinor drill in the Bight is twice as deep as Deepwater, and in some of the most wild and treacherous waters in the world, making it extra risky.

Equinors own report, shows that an oil spill in the Bight would stretch as far as from Western Australia through to NSW beaches and completely encircle Tasmania. This is an unnecessary and unacceptable risk to our entire southern Australian coastline.  To put our coastal communities, fisheries, all sea creatures and environments in danger, from experimental oil drilling….  It’s simply not worth the risk!

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) was due to announce on Equinor’s application to drill in the Great Australian Bight, on November 14 2019.  However, on November 8th, NOPSEMA issued a notice to Equinor requiring them to modify and resubmit their environment plan for proposed drilling in the Great Australian Bight.  Equinor had 21 days to respond to NOPSEMA’s request to modify and resubmit its environment plan. They did.

On 18/12/2019 NOPSEMA released a media statement saying it has accepted Equinor’s environment plan for exploratory petroleum drilling in the Great Australian Bight, which represents the second of four approvals required before activity can commence.

Despite the Australian people emphatically and repeatedly demonstrating that drilling in the Bight is NOT WELCOME, 14 months of protests involving almost 100 coastal communities, in excess of 50,000 people actively paddling out in protest, over 31,000 submissions against; and more than 20 local councils officially opposed to drilling in the bight. NOPSEMA and EQUINOR seem to have completely ignored the Australian peoples concerns, the risks to our marine environment, indigenous cultural sites, coastal ecologies and communities. The community consultation by Equinor has been a complete sham as coastal communities who risk getting their beaches covered in black oil sludge have been ignored.

Equinor said when they first came to Australia that they would not proceed if they didn’t have the support of the Australian public, they still persist. More ACTION coming in 2020!

 

Martha Lavinia - TAS

The proposal for fish farms around from Martha Lavinia beach is still on the table, however Tassal’s monitoring results show nothing and haven’t been reported for 2019. Tassal representative stated to Surfrider “No further developments between King Island and Tassal. You can read our communications on ASX, prawns is the current focus”.

The King Island written petition continues to gather signatures, nearing 70% of the island community is officially opposed to the proposal. Surfrider Foundation’s online petition has surpassed 24,600 signatures: www.change.org/p/tasmanian-house-of-assembly-save-martha-lavinia-beach. All petitions are yet to be presented to Parliament.  The locals were also writing submissions to the Legislative Councils Inquiry into the fin fish industry.

Surfrider’s video ‘Save Martha Lavinia’ from our Feb 2018 trip can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/267774795.  Patagonia's "Artifishal" and their new short doco "Saving Martha" was also screened nationally, based on the locals fight in July 2019 and the local rally and paddle out in Currie, earlier this year went really well receiving excellent media coverage with the ABC.  Watch videos and read statements from the likes of Barton Lynch, Tom Carroll, Jamie O’Brien, Ross Clarke-Jones, Brendan Margieson, Derek Hynd, Sunny Garcia, Andrew Kidman, Pancho Sullivan, Toby Martin, Mikey Brennan, Stuart Gibson, Sean Davey and Nick Carroll.

It’s quite clear that fish farms are "NOT WELCOME" on King Island!

 

Stockton Beach - NSW

Stockton Beach has been disappearing before our eyes a huge stretch of coastline remains crippled by erosion and devoid of any usable beach.  The Stockton community has been missing out on an average of 41,000M3 of sand per year, after construction of 1.1km long breakwaters and excavation of a channel 18M deep and 150M wide. It is virtually impossible for new sand to enter the south Stockton area and the flow on effects of the diminishing coastline is literally hurting the community.  Recently, injuries have occurred from exposed items/rocks, the childcare centre was demolished due to a necessary retreat from the ocean, and the Surf Life Saving Club's nippers program has been held at a pool for several weeks and also moved to Little Beach in Newcastle harbour..  As the ocean continues to claim the beach, the upgrades to the Mitchell st seawall continue for the protection of roads and houses, access to the beach near the surf club is only open when the tides and conditions allow.  Decades of sand not hitting the beach has turned this beach into a hazardous and dangerous place to be indeed.  Priority calls in NSW parliament for the longterm solution like offshore sand and beach nourishment, artificial reefs, but we are still waiting…..  The City of Newcastle has started Beach nourishment pilot project where 3600M3 of sand is being placed. Read more here: https://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/Living/Environment/Stockton

The Stockton Community Action Group (SCAG) have engaged the NSW Environmental Defenders Office to investigate if the state government has a duty of care to repair their beach following devastating erosion caused by the Newcastle harbour breakwaters.  SCAG member, Northside Boardriders president and Surfrider Hunter representative Simon Jones, said there were several areas being looked at.. "One area of investigation is the off-shore mining legislation, to advise if a pathway forward can be found for the approval of off-shore dredging to replenish the sand.  It's still unknown whether or not it can be done under the current legislation.  We also want them to investigate if the state government has a duty of care relating to the fact that its their infrastructure, the Newcastle harbour breakwaters, that has caused the erosion problem."

For more info and local action please visit Save Stockton Beach on facebook.

 

Bells Beach - VIC

Surfrider Surf Coast secretary – Darren Noyes-Brown

Declared the world’s first Surfing Reserve in 1971, the Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve enjoys global iconic status due to it’s majestic coastal beauty, ancient indigenous resonance and world class waves that feather on the horizon in corduroy lines.

Recreational surfing continues to be the primary activity at Bells and the environmental values and indigenous heritage continue to illuminate the heart and soul of Bells Beach and surrounds.

Unfortunately Bells Beach is on the endangered waves list due to serious threat from:

  • The Victorian government implementing a new tourism focussed Authority that would take over management of Bells Beach along with our Marine National Parks and parts of the Great Otway National Park along the Great Ocean Road. This authority will be looking for ways to fund itself and we are fearful they will want to turn the reserve into a major tourism destination to increase tourist numbers along the Great Ocean Road and boost the Victorian economy. Numbers are set to double in the next 20 years. All commercial enterprises that use the Great Ocean Road need to be charged a fee rather than commercialising Bells and spoiling all that is valued by those who visit.
  • Over the last decade or more we have had unrestrained residential estates being constructed in Torquay and a short distance inland at Armstrong Creek. Torquay is currently identified as a growth node and Bells is under threat from all these extra people nearby. Recently the Surf Coast branch via an Independent candidate in the state election was able to shine a light on the problem resulting in the state government undertaking a process to establish permanent and legislated town boundaries. Hopefully once this process is complete, we will be able to slow down the pressure on Bells.
  • Unlicensed coaches using the reserve that bring nothing to the local economy and the Surf Coast Shire does little to stop them. We have 9 to 10 surfing contests per year plus large running races, walking events plus an international cycling race passing through the reserve each year. The Easter surfing event is starting to use Winki Pop again over the busy holiday period which was always avoided because it was not possible to keep spectators out of the sensitive and endangered heathland overlooking the break. In recent years, spectators have been poorly managed at Winki Pop and continuing with this practice will put the heathland and fauna species under added pressure.
  • Surf Coast Shire and Surfing Vic advocating for a large raised walkway platform (1.5m high by 60m long) above Winki Pop to assist running the Easter surf contest if it gets shifted from Bells to Winki. This is in conflict with the Management Plan for Bells. It will be an eyesore, particularly when viewed from the water and is not sensitive to it’s context.
  • Surf Coast Shire wanting to replace gravel paths with concrete to minimise maintenance. If anything, the amount of hard surfaces need to be reduced to reduce the volume of polluted stormwater draining into the Marine National Park.
  • A property immediately adjacent to Bells was recently successful in having a small ‘group accommodation’ development approved. There are fears this will result in further commercial developments in the Bells Beach viewshed.

For more information, check out Surfrider Foundation’s dedicated page on Bells Beach at https://www.facebook.com/Respect-Bells-Beach-402006276821916/ and/or follow Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch

 

South Newcastle – NSW

Local rep. Bernie Wilson – South Newcastle Boardriders / Surfrider Hunter

On the 25th July 2019, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes unveiled the new concept drawings of the South Newcastle Beach Skate Park. In January 2019 the Council succumbed to pressure by local surfers, local ratepayers, the NSW coastal engineering community and the Surfrider Foundation to abandon the original plans of the skate bowl jutting out onto the beach.  This new plan shows the bowl positioned back up on the existing promenade. Thus in excess of 850m2 of concrete has been removed off the beach. This has come to much relief to those mentioned above.

So before we can endorse the project and can remove from the Endangered Waves list, our team will have to see and study the engineering drawings. We have not been told a date as to when they will be available aside from “within the next few months”.

But we must take comfort in knowing that we have had a small win in getting the majority of the concrete off the beach with help off many people in the community and the affiliates of the Surfrider Foundation.

New indicative design can be viewed here: https://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/Newcastle/media/DocumentsHYS/Engagement%20Projects/Bathers%20Way%20-%20Newcastle%20Beach/Bathers-Way-Newcastle-Beach-Indicative-Designs-December-2019.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1cptZAJez0VtQM6rU_ytwTGju9AEFSppRjdcG4_X6TZQ4Hjh4rmgHhH_c

 

Double Island Point - QLD

The relationship and positive action between Surfrider Foundation’s Sunshine Coast branch and local QLD Parks & Wildlife Service (QPWS) team, has had great impact on the national park and broader community awareness and behaviours. Though still there is blatant and ignorant disrespect for the beach and dunes, it seems that the positive community action and peer influence over the recent years is leading the way for a cleaner and healthier paradise..

By 2020 this will be the first National Park in QLD to have a ‘mandatory toilets’ policy as QPWS confirm there will be a dump point for toilets at the southern end of the beach by the end of 2019.  Currently there is a 20% toilet usage and aiming for 70-80%, recognizing that 100% is impossible.  Authorities and community groups (inc Surfrider) looking into portable toilets over peak periods, and camping numbers are slowly being reduced. Originally unlimited; down to 3,000; then 2,500, now 2,300.

No seasonal rotation of 15km campground stretch as yet, though this is a community and local rangers preference, the remainder of the beach and dunes from Noosa to Double Island Point is averaging from good to pristine.  A limit on day visitors is not on the table at the moment either, currently unlimited and in peak season resembles an urban city freeway of 4x4’s.  The education and awareness continues locally about respect for the beach and responsible 4WDing. 

 

T.O.S. / The Spit – QLD

Proposals and blue print plans ranging from foreshore redevelopment to cruise ship terminals to casinos to sewage outfalls are all on the table along the last remaining 10% of accessible Gold Coast coastal foreshore and beach that has not already been heavily developed upon. It provides a unique and rewarding surfing and coastal experience for anyone, from beginners through to the most experienced surfers. These breaks come alive during the winter months and can host incredible world-class waves at intermittent times, providing an assortment of wave types including long barrelling waves on swells from the south, punchy overhead piping tubes and even the occasional head high shorebreak that can spit.

The value of this undeveloped and ecologically rich stretch of coastal forest, dunes, beach and surfing breaks is elevated by it being surrounded by intense urban high-density development, making it a critically valuable balancing factor in the overall coastal amenity of the region. Whilst this proposal exists it presents a real and significant threat to the surf breaks and surfing amenity in the area, particularly the Philip Park beach breaks and sand banks at the immediate site of the proposed development.

Organisations opposing and campaigning against this: Surfrider Foundation Australia; Save Our Spit Alliance, Gecko – Gold Coast & Hinterland Environment Council, Save Our Broadwater, Main Beach Association

 

Blacksmiths – NSW

Local Rep. Miles  – Learn to Surf Newcastle / Surfrider Hunter

Recently the State Govt did a trial deposit of 5000 cubic mtrs of sand from the channel dredging operations.  It was trucked into the south end next to the wall and a bulldozer pushed it into the surf zone. Not really a fix but a great result of our campaign.

The managers in charge were happy with the trial as it was a good solution to the problem of where to put the sand dredged from the channel. They are looking at doing this with future excess sand. Ideally we are looking for a sand pumping system similar to Jimmy's beach Hawksnest.

That is the option we are driving for.  Also we'd like a trial of removing excess dune vegetation near the breakwall to see if that also helps like it did in the Illawara region.

We are still lacking any rideable surf from Maneela Street to the breakwall, with the shorebreak persisting along that entire section of the beach and the current run of solid south swells means we have nowhere to surf locally unless you are a big wave charger.

 

Yaroomba - QLD

The Yaroomba and broader sunshine coast community continue to fight against inappropriate and unwanted development on pristine coastline.  Currently there is over 9,200 officially submitted objections to the Sekisui proposal.  An appeal is lodged with Planning & Environment Court.  A fundraiser event on 26 Oct for the Save Yaroomba court appeal was SOLD OUT thanks to local bands: THE CHATS & The Unknowns.  Surfrider Sunny Coast actively supporting the campaign with recent events including: Save Yaroombas Endangered Waves event in March 2019 included a surfing comp and family fun day with surrounding boardriders clubs, community and environment groups. Other days of action and protest; bbq fundraisers have been regularly occurring; & Yaroomba is the proposed site of QLD’s first ‘Surfrider GROMFEST’ in March 2020.  The fight continues in the courts and on the beach.  Visit www.SaveYaroomba.com for more info

 

Kirra - QLD

In Oct 2017 Warning signs were placed at Kirra beach warning people not to swim or fish in the outlet a Kirra beach after water from Coolangatta Creek was found to be contaminated with Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFAS), a group of manufactured chemicals, which is used in firefighting at most airports around the country, PFAS are very stable chemicals that do not easily break down and may persist in the environment.  UNSW Associate Professor Robert Niven, an environmental engineer who studies PFAS contamination, told the ABC that the levels of contamination listed in the 2015 Airservices report about the Gold Coast airport expansion are “worryingly high”.  The chemicals have remained in the soil and groundwater at some Australian airports and defence bases.  In Qld, Toowoomba Regional Council filed the case with the Supreme Court in Brisbane, claiming the Commonwealth had been negligent in its management of the issue.

Communities in Williamtown in NSW, Oakey in QLD and Katherine in the NT, amongst others have been affected also.

Andrew McKinnon, chairman of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve, feared the potential impact on the Gold Coast’s reputation. “It’s definitely not a good look for the Gold Coast, especially after securing the Global Wave Conference in 2020,”.

The Australian Government’s PFAS Expert Health Panel, in its report to the Federal Minister for Health, noted there is no current evidence to suggest an increase in overall health risk related to PFAS exposure. However, the Expert Panel also said health effects cannot be ruled out at this time.

For the unknown, for the research papers, statement, court cases and anecdotal evidence, Kirra remains on the Endangered Waves list. 

We reckon it’s best not to go surfing around Kirra surrounding rain events.

 

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