Water quality under scrutiny
LOCALS keen on eating fresh seafood have spent the last 18 months monitoring the water quality of Dickson Inlet.
Although results so far have not been disturbing, the Local Marine Advisory Committee will continue the monthly monitoring to keep an eye on the health of the crucial waterway.
“Residents report they used to catch 10 fish in one trip, now they say it takes 10 trips to get one fish,” Douglas Local Marine Advisory Committee chair Alex Mateer said.
“We’ve also received reports of algal blooms at the end of the each dry season.
"Algal blooms can occur naturally, but human activities can have an impact by increasing sediments, nutrients and contaminants."
With assistance from Terrain NRM, Cairns Water and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, committee members have been testing the water quality for a range of different parameters including dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, salinity and turbidity.
Ten different sites have been established along the inlet from the upper reaches right down to the Sugar Wharf.
"At this early stage of monitoring, none of the results have been too concerning, although the levels of dissolved oxygen are consistently very low at some of the sites at the top end of the inlet," Terrain catchment planning and rehabilitation officer for Douglas Steve Bailey said.
"Further monitoring for several wet seasons will be required before a clear picture emerges of the health of Dickson Inlet,” Ms Mateer said.
“What we are doing now will provide a valuable baseline data set which we can hopefully develop and expand over time to help provide us with a better understanding of both the state of Dickson Inlet and how we can help to improve it.
"We’ll keep the Port Douglas community informed about what we find, and hope that if we can look after the inlet, we’ll also be helping to look after the Great Barrier Reef."
The DLMAC is made up of volunteers and meets five times a year to provide feedback and advice on reef matters to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Any volunteers who can help with water sampling once a month are urged to call Steve Bailey on 0409 265 160.