SUSTAINABILITY GROUP SEEKS MORE NEW MEMBERS
Douglas Shire Sustainability Group (DSSG), the shire’s only broad based environmental advocacy group, is asking those who care to join up, to be kept informed and to make a contribution to the well being of a very special place.
Given its location between two world heritage areas and its economic dependence on those assets, Douglas needs a strong, independent community group to advocate specifically for the environment and to hold governments to account. For that we need your support. Besides supporting specific issues such as the Stop Adani campaign and Keep Paradise Plastic Free campaign, our recent effort includes working with Council to implement the election commitments made by councilors.
Those commitments centred on the key environmental issues facing this shire and opportunities to become the leader it claims to be.
They are about maintaining the fixed urban footprint, the role council can play in reducing water borne pollution to the reef, climate policy and the Daintree Coast. We believe these policies are also key to the economic future of the shire, so should not be controversial.
Last week the Great Barrier Reef Foundation released its Deloitte Access Economics report which calculates the Great Barrier Reef’s full economic, social and iconic value at $56 billion.
The report found that in 2015/16 the reef added $6.4 billion of economic value to the Australian economy, including $3.9 billion in Queensland. While the reef employs 39,000 people directly, 64,000 jobs are linked to it nationally.
With nature based tourism amounting to over 80 per cent of the local economy, being a leader in environmental policy and action is fundamental to our ongoing reputation and presentation of a stunningly beautiful shire.
We would therefore encourage tourism business to join up, contribute to DSSG policy and support advocacy with local, state and federal government. Membership is only $10.
DSSG members are also active in supporting other environmental advocacy groups in the wet tropics and participate in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Local Marine Advisory Committee.
DSSG auspices grants for smaller community groups such as Whyanbeel Community Group which is focused on riparian waterway health.
We support ecologically sustainable development in the Shire, and have contributed to the Council’s economic development strategy.
We share the vision of that strategy which is to be the world’s leading sustainable tropical shire.
We’d like to do all we can to help deliver that aspiration.
Didge McDonald, president, DSSG
of localised extinction.
While environmental factors will contribute, gillnetting is considered by many experienced fishers, including retired gillnetters, as being one of the major contributors to this decline. It is also the one single factor we can so easily change with minimal adverse impact.
Under the current management of Queensland’s fisheries, the inshore marine resources in Douglas Shire waters will continue to decline as gillnetters slowly work themselves out of an income.
We are already reaching the stage where there are not enough fish left in inshore Douglas Shire waters for fulltime fishers to sustain their livelihoods.
But it won’t stop there, the resource may then continue to be further exhausted, quite legally, by subsidised netting by part-time gillnetters, who gain their main income from non-fishing sources.
To put it bluntly, how dumb are we in Queensland, in Douglas Shire, to continue to permit this process of slow extinction of our treasured and once rich inshore marine resources?
Since 2006 people in Douglas Shire have been advocating the exclusion of offshore and out-of-town gillnetters from inshore waters by designating the Port Douglas Smooth and Partially Smooth waters a net-free-zone (NFZ).
It is not a big ask and the rewards to the Douglas Shire community far outweigh any costs.
Looked at broadly, dispassionately, it is simple common sense. It is also sound economic sense. Such an NFZ meets all the triplebottom-line criteria for sound, sustainable community development: great for local businesses, great for the environment and wildlife, great for tourism and great for kids.
Right now, the Douglas Shire is witnessing a valuable, sustainable development opportunity slip through its fingers, possibly for ever.
To allow the status quo with regards gillnetting to continue, will be viewed by our children in the future, as unforgivable: a simple golden opportunity lost forever.
Reasons include a lack of awareness of just how abundant resources and wildlife once were (and could be again) within the Douglas Shire waters by anyone under 35 years of age.
Also at play are being “too busy”, “not a priority”, sympathy for the “poor fisherman and his family”, apathy and lethargy.
These factors may all play a part in why there has been no action so far.
But now is the time for action before it is too late (although it may already be too late for some local populations e.g. of tripletail, black jewfish, estuary saw shark, our endemic snubfin dolphin, etc.).
Of special concern is something we have only recently discovered.
We have just learned of another reason for lack of action by authorities to curtail gillnetting by outsiders in our local waters. This is the spread of misinformation about the supposed “selectivity” of gillnetting and the outrageous claim that grey mackerel do not reach “breeding condition” in local waters!
The JCU Report from their Port Douglas region oral history survey in 2010, of grey mackerel fishing, was never released.
This was despite several attempts over the years to obtain it. I finally received a copy of the 2010 study on 6 June 2017.
People are asking why it has not been released.
This needs to be formally addressed and a statement made by JCU, to the Douglas Shire community, to lay this matter to rest.
Based on my experience, I consider the JCU Report fails to adequately address the necessary issues. It makes statements and conclusions that are clearly wrong.
The conclusions are based on inadequate references.
When several senior community members tell us the conclusions in the report make them lose faith in government and research scientists,
I trust, like me, you will feel compelled to explore the truth.
David Cook, Wonga Beach
An offshore "out of town" gillnetting boat hauling grey mackerel near Snapper Island in 2007.