Clean beach debate
A few thoughts to improve outlook
IT IS good to see the Gazette encouraging debate on the beach cleaning issue which has been around for some years but disappointing to see comments from people who have had the same number of years to do the most basic research into the environmental impacts associated with it.
Beaches are not stand alone entities like buildings.
They are a vital part of the larger coastal ecosystem and people who come here do so mostly for the natural environment.
Seaweed and leaf detritus are fundamental as habitat and a food source for the beach ecosystem.
In the intertidal zone they are used by fish when covered with water and by birds at low tide.
Simple observation will see that, respectively, they are attracted by the marine critters that grow on the weed and by the insects attracted to it.
Seaweed also provides nutrients for the coastal vegetation which, if denied, can alter the beach structure and increase the likelihood of beach erosion.
Mechanical cleaning can lead to compaction which can alter the sand dynamics.
The misguided interpretation of the aesthetic values of our tourists is nothing compared to the potential damage we could inflict by failing to properly protect and manage this place we often call paradise. THERE seems to be some sort of agreement something needs to be done to change the present position of Port Douglas. Here are just a few thoughts. 1) A new overall organisation embracing all of Port Douglas. Sure, the existing structures in particular Tourism Port Douglas Daintree and the Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce would need a seat at the table, as would representatives of different types of business as well as sporting bodies and residents. Regular “open forum” meetings would need to be a feature. 2) Be realistic. De-amalgamation and a new lagoon, as desirable as they may be, are not going to bring an abundance of new international tourists. There are more immediate priorities. 3) Funding. Being a tourist area, Port Douglas has needs over and above those that can be expected of a council. Don’t expect residents of Mossman, Mt Molloy etc to pay for Port Douglas-specific requirements with their rates under Cairns Regional Council or de-amalgamation. We need a separate rate scheme for Port Douglas and probably not limited to retail, accommodation etc but rather all properties in Port Douglas. The value of all properties have gone down and any change in Port Douglas activity should benefit the value on all properties, so maybe they should all contribute but not necessarily on the same scale. This separate rate scheme would be used by the “head” organisation under the watchful eye of the council for expenditure unique to this town. 4) Promote all of Port Douglas and all it has to offer, not just those prepared to pay for an advertisement. 5) Embrace all - if the present position continues a reduction in services now available to residents will inevitably reduce. Retirees living in the town are not immune to the problems and also need to be represented. 6) Get the facts - survey, survey, survey. We run a bed and breakfast, mainly international tourists, and if anyone sat as I do at breakfast and listened to the problems encountered, it is embarrassing and in lots of cases simple to fix. These difficulties mainly revolve around communication and service. Examples include “I looked on a local directory site and the car hire firm I use around the world is not here”. Yes they are, just not on that site. “I found it hard to get a parking spot, had a great lunch, however, the two-hour parking restrictions didn’t give us time to look at the shops”. No need to tell you remarks I receive about the bus service. A major part of our business is guiding guests around obstacles which shouldn’t exist.
Cleaning up the Port Douglas product for existing tourists should be the first priority.
The problem is not just limited to Macrossan St - it affects everybody.