Clean beach de­bate

A few thoughts to im­prove out­look

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FEEDBACK -

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.

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