This month, I attended the Port Adelaide Environment Forum to hear a presentation about the results of the Senate Inquiry into the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary (Select Committee of the Legislative Council of South Australia inquiry into and report on Dolphins in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary and Port River). Andrew Winkler also attended the forum with me.

Our Society, and many other groups*, had made a submission to the inquiry. We also gave a presentation to the Committee. The recent forum gave us the first response to our submission and presentation.

* (See Appendix 2 of the Final Report.)

The forum was chaired by Catherine McMahon from the Estuary Care Foundation. The two speakers for the evening were Dr Susan Close and The Hon. Tammy Franks MLC.

The Hon. Tammy Franks spoke first. She was the Chair of the Select Committee. She said that the Committee had published an interim report and was now awaiting a Government response to the report. She told us that the interim report was available both online and from her office.

The 44-page interim report (Report of the Select Committee on Dolphins in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary and Port River – Interim Report) is available at https://www.estuary.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Adelaide-Dolphin-Sanctuary-Report-2022-interim-report-of-Select-Cttee.pdf .

The Hon. Ms. Franks discussed several aspects of the inquiry before handing over to Dr Susan Close, Acting Premier/Deputy Premier of SA, Environment Minister and the local member for Port Adelaide.

The main thing that came out of Dr Close’s presentation was that her government had been expecting to discuss a Final Report in November 2023. It seems that there is no Final Report yet available, and there may not be one at all unless it is deemed necessary to publish one. This means that the Government will only have the Interim Report to discuss in November. The Interim Report makes numerous findings and 14 recommendations.

Those in attendance at the forum were able to ask the Hon. Ms. Franks and Dr Close questions about the inquiry and subsequent Interim Report.

Some of the topics brought up by the presenters and those that asked questions included:

Mangrove loss

Sludge entering the Port River via a pipeline

Heavy metals

Excess signage within the ADS

The ADS Act 2005 still needs a proper review

The Management Plan of 2008 needs to be updated

Trial shellfish reefs in the Port River

Stormwater management

Problems with the large amount of cat urine entering the river

Speed restrictions in the Port River need to be reviewed

Problems with the inbreeding of the dolphins (their immune systems are compromised)

Global warming

Possible funding available from ‘submarine money’

Dredging, including the dredging to be done for the nuclear submarines

Microplastics in the water, especially in West Lakes

The Parks & Wilderness Councill did not make a submission to the inquiry

By Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve is a keen diver, underwater explorer, photographer and is chief author of the Society's extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

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