Smith Bay, Kangaroo Island Deepwater Port revised proposal: MLSSA Inc Position Statement

December 20, 2019 | Posted in: Submissions to Government

Dear Sir/Madam/Staff Concerned,

I, as Secretary of the Marine Life Society of South Australia Inc. (hereafter MLSSA Inc) ,with the President and Committee’s unanimous support, do hereby provide our position statement concerning KIPT’s Smith Bay K.I proposal for a deep water port facility.

MLSSA Inc, as the only incorporated  not-for-profit community group within South Australia whose Constitution and Aims cover the entire marine and estuarine waters within our State borders,  has a long and proud  history of involvement in research, exploration, biodata collection, specimen collection under permit (I am one of two MLSSA Inc members who hold current Ministerial Exemption Collecting Permits, obtained via collaboration with Museum S.A. and Marine Ecological Professors and other  qualified and  internationally  highly regarded experts  associated with our major State tertiary education institutions), journal publications, liaising on all relevant marine life topics with  many other stakeholders over decades (such as  DEW (formerly DEWNR), PIRSA/SARDI, Reef Watch (c.f. Reef Life Surveys), Museum S.A., EPA, Biosecurity S.A., Tourism S.A., State Herbarium, Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries, Malacological Society of South Australia Inc (MSSA Inc), RecFish SA (and its new overarching ministerial advisory body), and we are closely involved in the shellfish reef trials and monitoring thereof, in collaboration with Alan Noble (coincidentally a MLSSA member) of AusOcean .

This list is far from complete, but in all cases MLSSA and any given collaborative group or project gain mutual benefit, with sustainable marine habitats the common goal.

MLSSA Inc has also  long been a  provider of quality  underwater images for books and brochures, largely  at the request of State Government Departments and sundry  nature conservation community groups, aiding  public education covering every facet of this State’s marine life.

MLSSA is thus  ideally placed to provide a carefully  considered, science based, expert, non political view on the likely impacts of a deep water port facility at Smith Bay.

In the interest of brevity, I will now summarize our position.

Smith Bay DOES contain highly threatened Marine Habitats and Marine taxa.

Smith Bay is one of the very few parts of Gulf St Vincent never trawled for prawns, and is thus a very rare representation of what much of GSV’s benthic habitats and biodiversity was like prior to the advent of prawn trawling.

Smith Bay DOES contain numerous species within the FULLY PROTECTED Syngnathid fish group.

As an individual with extensive experience -over 4 decades of SA diving- amassing a wealth of images of the majority of described Syngnathid taxa known to occur in South Australia, due my special interest in Syngnathid species and my having logged more than 1500 scuba dives WITHIN South Australia over almost 5 decades, I do not make that statement lightly.  (References available on request).

In December 2018, and again in March this year, I dived Smith Bay (from depths of a few metres to 22 m), and every aspect of the Bay screams Syngnathid Hotspot!

Almost a full complement of bottom types is one of the reasons, but there are quite a few other aspects that make Smith Bay unique.

MLSSA opposes the planned  deep water port facility at Smith Bay.

Impacts on ecotourism (the fastest growing form of tourism globally) along the north coast of K.I, alone, should be enough to prevent such a proposal getting this far.

I refer not only to the short term impacts during construction but to the long term increase in turbidity every time a ship docks and departs, due the widely available, factually  unassailable oceanographic and hydrological mapping data.

Put simply, lifted silt, even at 20 m depth, will travel many km east and west along the north coast of K.I, carried by tides, even in benign weather conditions.

Any further decline in water clarity, hence light penetration, will inevitably lead to further seagrass loss, and have many other catastrophic consequences for the fantastic rocky reefs that line the north coast but which do not extend far offshore.

Thank you for reading the MLSSA submission.

Please don’t hesitate to ask for further information on any of the content.

 

Yours Sincerely,

(Dr) David S Muirhead
Secretary, MLSSA Inc.
PS:-A taste of the marine life in Smith Bay can be had by visiting the Smith Bay iNat project on the iNaturalist.org website.

David is a long-serving member of the Marine Life Society of South Australia. He has dived and snorkeled in South Australian waters for around five decades and has a particular interest in bony fishes. David has made the greatest single contribution to the society's Photo Index of local marine species.

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