In Sept 2014, FoGSV sent a letter to 16 South Australian Ministers regarding the future protection of Pt Stanvac jetty.
We have since received acknowledgement from various Ministers of receipt, as well as positive feedback from Greens Minister, Mark Parnell (see his email directly below):
Dear Rob and colleagues,
Thank you for your letter Opportunity not to be missed – survey of Pt Stanvac Jetty dated 8th September 2014.
I completely agree with you on this issue. Your letter was timely as we are still waiting for a response from the Government to the public consultation phase.
Last Wednesday, I took your points as inspiration for a speech to the Legislative Council, where I suggested that a full scientific survey be carried out before any decisions are made as to the future of the jetty as a piece of public infrastructure.
You can view my speech on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhUKUFxeQG4
And the full text of the speech is available on my website here: http://www.markparnell.org.au/speech.php?speech=1330
Please feel free to share with your networks and on your website.
For your interest I have also attached the public submission by the Conservation Council SA and seven other groups, in case you haven’t seen it already.
Mark Parnell MLC
Original letter sent below:
Opportunity not to be missed – survey of Pt Stanvac jetty
The Metropolitan Coast of Adelaide, as we know, has been significantly affected by human activity since European settlement.
Impacts have included:
• Clearing of forests on the Adelaide Plains soon after settlement
• Draining and removing wetlands to the east of the original coastal dune system
• Building extensively upon the dune system and too close to the high tide line
• Disposal of industrial wastes to waterways that drain to the Gulf
• Discharging of insufficiently treated human sewage into the Gulf
• Construction of ports, marinas, boat ramps, breakwaters and groynes that require regular dredging
It has taken decades to come to the point where South Australian researchers have been able to connect the dots and link many of these activities with – most significantly – seagrass loss (5,000 hectares) and the consequent changes to the coastline.
The Friends of Gulf St Vincent, along with many other groups concerned with continuing challenges to the health of the Gulf, are doing our best as a volunteer organisation to support responsible use of the Gulf. Enclosed is a booklet that outlines, in more detail, our concerns about the future of the Gulf.
We are contacting all South Australian politicians with any interest in, and responsibility for, our marine waters to alert you to a unique opportunity before it is lost.
The Port Stanvac jetty has been a restricted area since the 1960s, which means there has been minimal disturbance to the marine zone adjacent to the jetty structure. In effect, it has been a de facto marine reserve for 50+ years. The only other locality similar to this – the Port Noarlunga Reef – is open to recreational fishing, and surveys have shown that the heavy use and proximity of Noarlunga reef to terrestrial runoff has resulted in parts of the reef being in “poor” or “at caution” condition status (Collings reef health 4).
Port Stanvac is a local hotspot for biodiversity (Benkendorff), and recent surveys have found EPBC listed marine species living around the wharf structure (leafy seadragons).
The removal of the wharf structure will result in the death of all the sessile and site attached species. It is likely that the ecological condition of the area will deteriorate to match that of the remainder of the metropolitan coast.
The FoGSV have previously written to the State Government urging that its protection from exploitation be continued.
Most imperative is the need to conduct a thorough survey of the site, which represents a long-term refuge on this side of the gulf. A baseline study should be undertaken before any decision about future use or access is made.
We are seeking bipartisan support for a comprehensive study as soon as possible – it would be inexcusable to miss this opportunity to define:
- ecological values, including distribution and abundance of threatened species
- current (baseline) ecological health
- habitat types and distribution
- species distributions and abundances
- community composition and quantitative biodiversity
- presence and population characteristics of introduced species
- physico-chemical conditions and environmental health
and to establish:
- visual disturbance indicators
- performance indicators and environmental trigger values
In 2013 the FoGSV heard a presentation by the EPA on the Nearshore Marine Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reporting Program for Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf, and we look forward to following the progress of this monitoring. The inclusion of the Port Stanvac Jetty as a monitoring site makes good sense. We note that the jetty has been a significant long-term weather, tide and sea condition monitoring site for the Bureau of Meteorology, and this role could continue if the offshore jetty structures were retained until they degrade naturally over time.
With respect to a baseline study of the jetty, the well-regarded Reef Life Survey (RLS) method (developed at University of Tasmania) should be used, as that method is to be used for marine parks monitoring in SA, and it is now a standard technique across southern Australia (and in various other parts of the world) for survey of natural and artificial reefs, and ongoing “reef health” monitoring.
South Australia has a marine research and citizen science community that is skilled in RLS methods, and has expertise in determining the suite of rarely recorded / limited range, threatened and endemic species at jetty sites. The commitment of our marine science community is evidenced by two comprehensive books on South Australia’s major gulfs – The Natural History of Spencer Gulf and The Natural History of St Vincent. The Friends of Gulf St Vincent will join with other environmental groups to provide whatever support we can if permission is granted to carry out a survey.
Below are reasons given previously for protection of the jetty biota, and continuation of restricted access.
- Presence of species protected under South Australian and Federal Legislation: both Leafy Seadragon Phycodurus eques and Weedy Seadragon Phyllopteryx taeniolatus occur in the vicinity of the jetty.
- Presence of Species of Conservation Concern: Blue Devilfish Paraplesiops meleagris and Long-snouted Boarfish Pentaceropsis recurvirostris, and other site-associated reef species of conservation concern occur in the vicinity of the jetty.
- Important Refuge for Fishes i.e. not fished since the 1960s, hence functions as a significant de facto marine reserve, and there are very few other examples of areas in South Australia which have been unfished for so long.
- Ecological Significance: due to its length and depth, and shading provided by the jetty, it functions as a significant artificial reef habitat, including habitat for deeper water species.
- Proximity to Desalination Plant Outlet: and hence useful as an environmental monitoring site.
- Important Habitat for Reef Invertebrates (assemblages of reef invertebrates living on the pile structures, in an area largely devoid of reef).
- Likely Habitat for rarely recorded species (given the length and depth the jetty, the lack of previous access, and the reduced light penetration due to the structures overlying the jetty piles).
- Research Value, for Monitoring Climate Change: The end of the jetty has been a significant long-term weather, tide and sea condition monitoring site for the Bureau of Meteorology, and this role could continue if the offshore jetty structures were retained until they degrade naturally over time.
- Value as a Long Term Marine Environmental Monitoring Site e.g. very useful as a marine environmental monitoring site using Reef Life Survey methods, because it is unfished, and also is suitable for transect-based monitoring over a gradation of depths (monitoring of fishes and invertebrates at this site would also relate to climate change monitoring, and effects of desalination plant).
- Value as site for Monitoring Presence of Introduced Marine Species: Given the history of this jetty as a shipping terminal, and the fact that a number of southern Australia’s most invasive marine pest species were introduced by shipping, it is important that any baseline survey of the biota include description and quantification of introduced marine species. This will support current government and community research and eradication programs for marine pests in Gulf St Vincent.
Suggestions/Options for the long term use of the wharf structure:
- Maintain the full structure – large cost due to cathodic protection required and safety risk
- Removal of the top structure but leave the pylons (potentially 2m below the surface). This would retain the vast majority of the biodiversity and value, without the large cost of maintenance and risk – installing navigational markers around the structure would be no different to what is located around the Port Noarlunga reef or even natural reefs that are not marked (Horseshoe reef). The structures will degrade over time due to corrosion but this is unlikely to significant affect biodiversity
- This could then be used as a dive trail with information markers underwater (similar to Pt Noarlunga) with some of the history of the site (eg: biological as well as industrial) linking the wharf, the dolphins and the pipeline
- The Government should request that Mobil offset the cost of not removing the pylons as a part of their required demolition of the site, to pay for the establishment of navigational marking/lighting and dive trail signage
Potential strategies for maintaining ecological protection:
- Add The Pt Stanvac site to the marine park network
- Make it a PIRSA Aquatic reserve due to its role in fish habitat
- Maintain the DPTI exclusion zone due to navigational hazard
We reiterate that Port Stanvac jetty is a special case, and that its status for the past 60-odd years makes it one of the very few significant marine jetty refuges on this side of the gulf.
We hope that all South Australian elected representatives can appreciate the significance of this opportunity.
President, Friends of Gulf St Vincent