Q. Will Seagrass Beds Be Affected By The Construction Of The Marina?Answer
Seagrass surveys carried out within the State Boat Harbour showed there were no intact seagrass beds and that only very sparse patches (generally less than 5% cover), of Halophila ovalis were present within and adjacent to the proposed development footprint. Of this, marina construction would directly affect 0.83 hectares as a result of dredging and reclamation. The patches affected by construction activities have low fisheries value and are too small and sparse to provide foraging habitat for dugongs, turtles or dolphins.
It is unlikely that seagrass beds outside the State Boat Harbour would be affected by the proposed works because water quality impacts are not expected in this area.
Comprehensive site-specific modelling of turbidity plumes resulting from dredging has been carried out as part of impact assessment studies undertaken for the project. Approximately 90% of dredging would be carried out in predominantly sandy sediment which would result in little or no discernable turbidity plume. For the other 10% (comprising a combination of silt and sand), there is the potential for low intensity plumes to extend marginally outside of the State Boat Harbour boundary for short durations during strong tides. Environmental impacts resulting from these small plumes outside of the harbour would be negligible as they would not be intense enough to affect benthic flora or fauna.
Q. Will There Be An Increase In Boat Traffic And A Resultant Increase In Boat Strikes To The Local Marine Fauna?Answer
It has been predicted that growth in vessel numbers within the Great Sandy Strait (GSS) and Tin Can Inlet areas will occur regardless of whether the proposed marina facility proceeds. The proposed marina will likely accommodate some additional vessels which will come to the GSS as part of existing growth and also allow other vessels, currently operating in the GSS, to relocate to the new facility. As a result, no significant increase in the number of boats or boat trips is expected overall in the wider Tin Can Inlet and GSS areas due to the operation of the proposed marina.
Of the boats that the proposed marina is expected to attract, it is important to understand that not all have a high risk of causing boat strikes to marine animals. Many of the vessels expected to utilise the new marina facility would not have a high risk of boat strike because they are non-planing and have top speeds of less than 10 to 12 knots. It is principally fast moving, planing power boats which are the greatest risk in causing boat strike to marine animals. Of the trips made from the new marina facility, only approximately 40 to 45 per week (less than 30% of all trips) would fall into this category.
When vessels are operated out of a properly managed marina facility (rather than from informal moorings or remote boat ramps), there is an improved opportunity to educate boat operators about the risk of boat strike, those areas where risks are higher, requirements of ‘go slow’ zones in the marine park and how to adopt boating practices that reduce the risk of boat strike.
It should also be noted that the areas of the Tin Can Inlet and GSS where marine animals are most at risk of boat strike (i.e. where turtles and dugongs occur in larger numbers), are to the north of Inskip Point and the Wide Bay Bar entrance. The number of turtles and dugong which occur in the Tin Can Inlet section of the GSS (the waters which would be most commonly accessed from the proposed marina) is lower.
In 2011 there were 13,343 vessels registered in the Fraser Coast and Gympie Local Government Areas. The capacity of the proposed marina facility represents less than 3% of the registered vessels in this area. The Great Sandy Marine Park Zoning Plan sets aside areas to protect the habitat of marine species. This includes ‘go slow’ zones where the risk of collision with marine animals is considered high. Vessels that transverse these zones need to abide with 'go slow' areas which means travelling 'off the plane'. These regulations are there to minimise any potential risks to animals from boating traffic.
The proposed marina would also provide a destination for vessels making passages from outside the region. This already occurs and is one of the intended functions of the State Boat Harbour.
Q. Will The Proposed Development Have A Significant Impact On The Surrounding Wetlands?Answer
The Tin Can Inlet and Great Sandy Straits region has a high environmental value with the area including both the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar Wetland and the Great Sandy Marine Park.
The proposed Fraser Straits Marina is however, fully contained within the Snapper Creek State Boat Harbour which has been operated as one of the strategically located Queensland State Boat Harbours for over 25 years. The State Boat Harbours are specifically intended as the locations where boating infrastructure and services should be located. This has been acknowledged through the exclusion of the Snapper Creek State Boat Harbour from both the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar area, and the Great Sandy Marine Park.
Sediment dispersal and plume modelling indicate that dredging is unlikely to have a significant impact on any areas outside the boundaries of the State Boat Harbour. It is therefore concluded that the proposed works are not likely to have any significant impact on the ecological character of a declared Ramsar wetland.
Q. Will The Proposed Marina Stop Feeding Of The Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins In The Area?Answer
No, there is no intention to impact on the feeding of dolphins in the Snapper Creek Boat Harbour. The design of the proposed marina retains the areas where feeding has been undertaken.
The dolphins which frequent the area for feeding have become accustomed to busy boat traffic given that the boat ramp is located near a navigation channel that services the existing 172 berth marina, fishing trawlers and small vessels. The harbour also hosts events such as the Bay-to-Bay Yacht Race which attracts a fleet of up to 200 yachts.
A number of marine construction activities have been undertaken previously at Norman Point. They include construction of the public pontoon and refuelling jetty (which included installing piles). Dolphin feeding has continued after these projects. During construction of the proposed marina, management measures would be put in place to reduce potential impacts on the current feeding activities.
These could for example include limiting works around the feeding area during peak times (typically in the mornings), employing fauna watchers during construction and utilising lower noise methods to install piles where possible.
Q. Are There Toxins In The Sediment Which Would Have An Adverse Effect On Marine Life In The Area Because Of Dredging?Answer
Sampling and testing of the sediments in the area which would be dredged has been carried out. the tests included a wide range of parameters which could potentially be toxic, as prescribed by commonwealth government guidelines for sediment testing.
The results of this testing were compared with guideline values which indicate whether the amount of any substances detected could have toxic effects.
Of all the parameters tested (over 100), only the following were detected within the samples from the proposed dredge area:
3 samples showed traces of 4 types of pesticide (DDD, DDE, DDT and Dieldrin). Some of these traces were above concentrations the screening levels specified in the guidelines.
1 sample showed traces of Acenapthene (residue from some types of fungicide or insecticide). The concentration was slightly above the screening level cited in the guidelines.
3 samples contained TBT (tributyltin used in old types of anti-fouling paint) above the screening level specified in the guidelines.
The samples which contained these pollutants were principally from within a small section of the proposed dredge area close to the public boat ramp and storm water outlets. Under present conditions these pollutants are located in surface sediments which are in contact with the water column.
Using a cutter suction dredge to remove these sediments and place them in the base of the reclamation would provide a benefit because the pollutants in the sediment would no longer be in contact with the marine system.
There would be no significant potential for the pollutants to cause adverse effects during the dredging because the concentrations of pollutants are low; the amount of sediment affected is small (so could be dredged in only a few days); the suction of the dredge limits sediment dispersion in the water column and the pollutants identified tend to remain with fine sediment particles which means they can be contained in the reclamation area.
Q.Is There 2-4D (A Herbicide) In The Sediments Proposed To Be Dredged?Answer
The sediment in the area of the proposed marina has been thoroughly sampled and tested. No trace of 2-4D was found.
2-4D is a herbicide used for the control of broadleaf weeds in a wide range of crops and non-cropping situations. The use of some 2-4D products has been suspended since 2006. Given that the surrounding land use is predominantly urban with marine related facilities and that there is a lack of agricultural areas within the vicinity of the harbour, it is unlikely that 2-4D herbicide residue would accumulate within the marine sediments in the proposed dredging area.
Q. Are There More Suitable Sites Within Tin Can Bay For A Marina, Such As Carlo Point?Answer
The proposed Fraser Straits Marina is planned to be located in the Snapper Creek State Boat Harbour. It is the only location that has compatible existing uses and infrastructure such as good roads and services access; it is not covered by Marine Park and Ramsar designation and the dredging works required to form a useful marina are comparatively minor. There is minimal marine infrastructure in other areas of the Tin Can Inlet. Carlo Point is covered by Marine Park and Ramsar designation and would require more dredging than the Snapper Creek State Boat Harbour.
Snapper Creek State Boat Harbour is an area set aside by the State specifically for the development of marine infrastructure. It already contains a large number of marine infrastructure components and is serviced by an existing navigation channel maintained by Queensland Transport.
All other intertidal areas of Tin Can Bay are contained within both the marine park and the Ramsar wetland. The Snapper Creek Boat Harbour is the only location not covered by these designations. In addition, other locations within the Tin Can Inlet that might be considered have poor connectivity to roads and services (e.g. water and sewerage) and/or major dredging challenges.
Q. I've Heard The Proposed Marina Is A 'Mega Marina', How Big Will It Be?Answer
The proposed marina would be of a similar size to the existing Tin Can Bay Marina and adjacent commercial berths and hardstand areas.
The proposed marina is typical of marinas located in small harbour settings. In the context of the range of marina sizes, it could not be described as a "mega marina". The number of berths (243) is appropriate for the proposed setting in the State Boat Harbour. As an example, the existing Tin Can Bay Marina has 172 berths while approximately 30 berths are provided for trawlers immediately adjacent to the Tin Can Bay Marina. Together, these are a comparable size to the proposed marina.
To compare the proposed marina with others in the region, the marina in the Mooloolaba State Boat Harbour has approximately 250 berths. Marinas in other State Boat Harbours such as Urangan (approximately 400 wet berths) or Manly (over 1000 wet berths) are more in line with what would be considered a large marina.
The size of vessel catered for by the proposed marina also is similar to existing vessel sizes currently found in the boat harbour. The Tin Can Bay Marina provides for vessels predominantly in the range of 8 - 15 m with some provision for vessels up to 20 m. Trawlers berthed within the harbour would also typically be between 10 - 15 m in length. Over 200 of the 243 wet berths at the proposed marina will be for vessels between 9 and 15 m with only a handful of berths made available for vessels 20 m and over.
Maintenance dredging would need to be carried out intermittently (approximately every 4-5 years) as part of the ongoing management of the marina. This would be consistent with the current maintenance dredging cycle for the Queensland Transport managed navigation channels. The scale of maintenance dredging requirements would be much less than that required during construction.
Like any marina facility, there are some operational water quality issues that need to be addressed such as effluent disposal and the release of anti-fouling chemicals from boat hulls. The construction of a new marina will provide an opportunity to improve the management of boat effluent release in the inlet by providing pump-out facilities for vessels that may not currently have access to such facilities. The use of antifouling paints on boat hulls is now well regulated with potentially harmful chemicals such as TBT banned from use. The levels of these chemicals being released into the water column would be too small to be ecologically significant.
The marina will be managed in line with current guidelines and standards - impacts are unlikely to occur outside of the footprint area. The location and layout of the proposed marina in a tidal creek would ensure the area is well flushed, maintaining water quality at the site.
Q. Will The Proposed Marina Impact On Navigational Safety And Access?Answer
The proposed marina has been designed in accordance with relevant standards, codes and the Harbour Master's requirements. It will not prevent safe navigation either within the channel maintained by Queensland Transport or from the existing boat ramp to the channel.
The existing harbour access channel is 30 metres wide, which is in line with other State Boat Harbours and the Australian Standard Marina Code. The proposed marina will not impede this channel. The proposed marina layout includes sufficient clearance between berths and around the public boat ramp to allow room to safely manoeuvre vessels launched from the ramp and provide adequate line of sight to the navigation channel. Speed limits within the harbour and additional signage where vessels access the channel from the ramp would reduce the risk of incidents occurring.
While it is true that vessels will have to navigate differently than under the existing arrangement (i.e. there will be new structures in place) and that care will need to be taken when navigating in the marina area, the channels and public boat area will continue to provide what is required for safe navigation.
Q. Why Has The Federal Government Determined The Proposed Marina To Be A "Controlled Action"?Answer
A controlled action means there is a requirement to go through the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 approval process. This does not mean the project will have a significant impact on the environment. It does however mean that the Federal Government considers there to be sufficient basis for the approval process to be undertaken and for it to have a role in decision making.
Many marine infrastructure projects of this nature are designated controlled actions due to the generally sensitive nature of marine environments. The proponents will continue to work with officials from the Department of Sustainability Environment, Water, Population and Community to comply with the requirements of this Act.
Q. Will Extreme Weather Events Such As A Cyclone Impact On The Proposed Marina?Answer
Based on weather condition assessments undertaken, the proposed Fraser Straits Marina would be considered suitable for the development of maritime infrastructure.
It has been suggested that strong winds (such as those that occur during a cyclone) could result in damage to the proposed marina and vessels residing within it. Strong winds generally affect marinas by increasing the size and frequency of waves, forcing berthed vessels into the marina fingers and causing damage to both the vessels and infrastructure. The marina has been designed with these potential issues in mind and is strong enough to withstand strong winds and waves. An analysis of existing wind induced wave conditions in Snapper Creek along with potential changes to these conditions resulting from the development, also have been completed as part of impact assessment studies carried out.
While there is always the potential for extreme events such as cyclones to affect coastal developments, Snapper Creek is protected from wind and waves by Fraser Island and the Tin Can Inlet. This is one of the reasons why the area was identified as a State Boat Harbour (i.e. it provides safe harbour). This makes the existing wave climate generally conducive to boating and marina activities. Modelling using site specific wind data has shown waves rarely exceed 0.5 m around Norman Point, even in storm events. These conditions would be navigable for all but the smallest vessels, which is evidenced by the high level of marine activity that occurs at the site.
Modelling has also shown that the existing wave climate will be reduced around Norman Point as a result of the proposed development. This reduction is especially apparent during easterly winds (the direction of most strong winds at Tin Can Bay). The reclaimed area, on which the marina would be built, would stop waves from that direction entering Snapper Creek and the proposed marina.
For further information on the proposed Fraser Straits Marina please contact:
Seymour Group Pty Ltd
GPO Box 2487
BRISBANE QLD 4001