Since 2000, the TCT (initially with the Marine & Coastal Community Network) has been running a series of projects focusing on the conservation of Tasmania's offshore islands. Most of these are weeding projects, removing African boxthorn from the Furneaux Group of Islands. Other weeds have also been tackled, in different regions of Tasmania, including sea spurge and Cape Leuwin wattle.
Over the last three editions of the Tasmanian Conservationist our marine campaigner Jon Bryan has outlined the crisis that exists in the rock lobster fishery and the resulting environmental crisis this has caused, in particular on the east coast of Tasmania. Reduction in numbers of large rock lobster due mainly to over fishing has removed one of the key natural controls on the Centrostephanus sea urchin. With nothing left to control them, these sea urchins have proliferated along most of the east coast removing vital algae species and reducing once bio-diverse rocky reef habitats to barren wastelands.
In February 2010 the Australian and Tasmanian governments signed an agreement to undertake a strategic impact assessment pursuant to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) of the state government processes and regulations under which the Midlands Water Scheme (MWS) will be developed.
On 15 October 2010 the Australian Government Minister for the Environment Tony Burke announced the approval of the ‘Management Plan for the Commercial Harvest and Export of Brushtail Possums in Tasmania 2010–2015’ (Possum Export Plan).
There are alternatives to the state government’s proposed Brighton Bypass route, which would protect the important Jordan River levee site, satisfy the Aboriginal community, be relatively low cost and meet all standards required by the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (DIER). So why has the state government dug its heals in and appears unwilling to avoid the destruction of this priceless piece of Tasmanian heritage while facing enormous public opposition?
On 20 October 2010, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust announced that it had decided not to endorse the Forests Statement of Principles Agreement (the Agreement) which was signed by representatives of the forest industry and three conservation groups and presented to you on the 19 October 2010.
Throughout Tasmania our reserves seem to be under attack. A nickel mine is threatening the Dans Hill Conservation Area (as featured in the last Tasmanian Conservationist,No. 319, page 1), recreational vehicles are running amok in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area during the March 2010 state election the Labor Party committed $12 million for development of the disastrous Three Capes Track in the Tasman National Park.
The TCT’s public criticism of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program earlier this year has brought about a change in how the program communicates with the outside world, but we are yet to see decisive action on delivery of an insurance population – our major complaint.
There are indications that elements of the commercial fishing industry are working together to bring a big freezer boat to fish stocks of small pelagic fishes off Australia's southern coastline. This is bad news for marine ecosystems in this part of the world, as well as recreational fishers and other sectors concerned about Australia’s marine ecosystem.
The rock lobster fishery is currently in crisis. Despite having an excellent management framework and relatively well-resourced research and management support, major problems have been ignored for too long. Excessive commercial inshore fishing pressure, localised overfishing, habitat change associated with knife-edge fishing (what is this) and consequent expanding urchin populations are all issues that have been recognised for years, but have not yet been addressed by any meaningful changes to management. Since 2006, poor recruitment has added to these already serious problems. Habitat change due to the rock lobster fishing and overfishing are now major concerns, particularly in the east and southeast regions, that can no longer be ignored.
In the 1840s when the Goose Island lighthouse was being constructed, the consignment of stores included wood and coal for fires. As the island did not then apparently support trees. Goose Island is a windy exposed island and it is understood that the building of numerous stone walls and the planting of boxthorn by the lightkeepers, to create windbreaks for livestock, gardens and people, occurred early in the history of settlement.
During the 2010 state election the TCT and Tasmanian Land Conservancy secured the commitment of all three political parties to establish a Private Land Conservation Fund. The Labor Party could only give in-principle support and, not surprisingly, the fund received no funding in the State Budget. Since the election we have commenced discussions with the State Government to establish the institution to run the fund, with a view to seeking funding from next year’s budget.