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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 11507


Senator Bartlett asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 10 December 2002:

(1) What is the total quantity of untreated sewage discharged from vessels into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park each year.

(2) What is the amount of sewage treated to a standard less than tertiary treatment that is discharged into the marine park.

(3) Are there any plans for eliminating the discharge of untreated waste into the marine park.

(4) What is the status of the plan to require tertiary treatment for all sewerage treatment plants that discharge into the marine park.

(5) Are there requirements for pump out facilities to be installed in marinas, harbours and/or ports along the Great Barrier Reef coast.

(6) Is there a requirement that new facilities contain pump-out facilities.

(7) With reference to page 34 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's report 2001-02, which indicates both a reduction in the number of trawlers and an increased profitability of remaining trawlers: Are there any figures on: (a) the relative levels of catch; and (b) catch per unit effort in the 18 months since the trawl plan took effect.

(8) When are the results of the seabed recovery work being done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation expected to be available.

(9) With reference to page 35 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's report 2001-02, which notes that agreement has been reached with the Queensland Government regarding management of the take of pipefish and seahorses by trawlers, and given that the report also indicates that agreement was reached on measures that need to be introduced to monitor the impact of trawling on these species: What is the current level of: (a) pipefish; and (b) seahorse take by trawlers.

(10) What are the current estimated population levels in the marine park of those species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

(11) What are the agreed measures for monitoring pipefish and/or seahorse take.

(12) What are potential measures to reduce the take of those threatened species.

(13) (a) Is it true that prohibitions on spawning aggregations are no longer in the Reef Line Fishing Plan; (b) was it in earlier drafts of the plan; (c) did the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority support its earlier inclusion; and (d) does the authority support the targeting of spawning aggregations under this plan.

(14) Given that the Government has indicated it will reintroduce regulations relating to commercial netting in Princess Charlotte Bay, and given that approximately 16 fishers have a history of regularly using the bay: (a) how many of those 16 had other endorsements; and (b) what were the other endorsements.

(15) Of the total commercial netting effort in the bay, historically, how much of the effort occurred outside the conservation zone, including intertidal and estuarine netting.

(16) What is the total bill that the authority has submitted to the Queensland Government for monitoring and other work at Nelly Bay Harbour.

(17) (a) Has the authority inspected the ferry landing area; (b) is it the case that the concrete at the ferry landing is cracking; and (c) has the authority signed off on the landing facilities.

(18) Given that at the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee estimate hearings on 20 November 2002, the authority indicated there were concerns with sediment at Nelly Bay: Can details be provided of the nature, status and proposed solutions to those concerns.

(19) Given that at the Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Legislation Committee estimate hearings on 20 November 2002, the authority indicated that there was an `excision' issue in relation to Nelly Bay: Is it correct that this relates to the need for water to be permanently present between the breakwater and the mainland of Magnetic Island.

(20) Is it correct that the authority is recommending a re-profiling of areas inside the harbour in order to ensure that separation is maintained; if so, can a description of the authority requirements be provided.

(21) Is this issue the subject of any dispute with the state government.

(22) Based on current design, depths and sedimentation rates and the changes in beach profile requested by the authority, how frequently is dredging expected to be required inside Nelly Bay harbour or in the access channel.

(23) Has the authority had any discussions with the state, the contractor or others in relation to a proposed groyne at Nelly Bay; if so, can details be provided of: (a) the nature and status of the proposal; and (b) any discussions that have been held.

(24) With reference to the answer to question on notice No. 525 (Senate Hansard, 17 September 2002, p. 4323) in which the authority provided a summary of pending coastal development applications to the Senate: How many additional staged developments are there along the Queensland coast for which there are no current Commonwealth applications, but which have indicated an intent to move to a subsequent development stage.

(25) How many coastal development approvals issued by local or state governments are currently on the books that have not yet been acted upon but are still valid.

(26) With reference to page 30 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's report 2001-02, which indicates that the authority acted as advisory agency on a number of occasions under the Integrated Planning Act: (a) How many advices were provided; and (b) for which development proposals.

(27) To what extent have the recommendations contained in advices been followed by the relevant state authority.

(28) With reference to page 28 of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's report 2001-02 which lists one of the outputs of the authority as the `pollution status of Cleveland Bay': Can an outline of the pollution issues relating to Cleveland Bay be provided.

(29) (a) Is the Queensland nickel outfall discharge pipe still operational; and (b) are there plans to cease discharge from that pipe.


Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for the Environment and Heritage has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) From information contained in the Queensland Transport 2001 Recreational Boating Survey and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's (GBRMPA) Environmental Management Charge data it is estimated that, recreational vessels over 6 metres in length would be expected to generate about 765 tonnes of sewage into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) per year (includes flush water). This roughly equates to 1.8 tonnes Nitrogen and 0.7 tonnes Phosphorus per year; and commercial tourist vessels take about 1,650,000 people into the GBRMP for 1 day per year, generating around 12,000 tonnes of sewage per year (includes flush water and assumes they all stayed for 12 hours). This roughly equates to 30 tonnes of Nitrogen and 11 tonnes of Phosphorus per year.

Therefore the estimated total volume of sewage discharged from such vessels into the GBRMP each year is approximately 12,765 tonnes. However, this is based on considerable assumptions regarding the number of passengers, how much sewage is generated and how often vessel owners visit the GBRMP.

(2) The Environmental Management Charge records held by the GBRMPA for permitted sewage discharges into the GBRMP in 2001-2002 indicate that the sewage discharged into the GBRMP met the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authorities tertiary treatment standard with the exception of a small number of minor exceedances. The estimated total volume of sewage discharged from vessels into the GBRMP each year that is not treated to tertiary standard is referred to in Question 1.

(3) Under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (the Act), waste includes oil, oil mixtures, noxious liquid substances, packaged harmful substances, sewage and garbage. It is an offence under the Act to intentionally or negligently discharge waste (other than sewage) in the GBRMP, unless the discharge is authorised by a permission from the GBRMPA.

With regard to sewage, the Act currently precludes vessels that contain a storage tank designed for the storage of sewage from discharging sewage within 500 metres of the seaward edge of the nearest reef. From 1 January 2004, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 (the Regulations) will preclude vessels that are surveyed to carry more than 6 passengers from discharging sewage within 1000 metres of the mean low water mark of an island or the mainland, or within 1000 metres of the seaward edge of the nearest reef unless the sewage has been treated to tertiary standard.

(4) The GBRMPA's policy for Sewage Discharges from marine outfalls into the GBRMP that required that all sewage discharges into the GBRMP be tertiary treated (to the standard defined in the Regulations) by 1 March 2002 has been implemented.

(5) The GBRMPA does not have any regulations to impose such requirements. However, the GBRMPA's Environmental Guidelines for Marinas in the GBRMP published in 1994 for marinas within the Great Barrier Reef region, includes recommendations for the provision of sewage pump-out facilities in marina developments.

(6) See response to Question 5.

(7) The Senator is referred to the submission entitled Ecological Assessment of the Queensland East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery prepared by the Queensland Fisheries Service for Environment Australia for use in assessing the operation of the fishery under Parts 13 and 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in relation to the export of regulated native specimens. Table A6-1 in Appendix 6 of the submission contains figures for 2001 on the catch and days of fishing effort for the major species groups taken in the Queensland East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery. Figures for 2002 are not yet available. This report is available from the Queensland Fisheries Service, Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

(8) The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has provided advice to the effect that the final report of the research project on the recovery of seabed environment from the impact of prawn trawling in the Far Northern Section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will be completed by December 2003.

(9) The latest figures on the take of syngnathids (pipefish and seahorses) in the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery are provided in a Statement of Management Arrangements for the Syngnathid Harvest from the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery prepared by the Queensland Fisheries Service in September 2001. According to fishers' logbooks for the period March 2000 to July 2001, 102 trawlers reported retaining a total of 10,597 syngnathids, which (based on processor surveys) were thought to be predominantly the pallid pipehorse Solegnathus hardwickii and Duncker's pipehorse Solegnathus dunckeri.

(10) The abundance and status of syngnathid populations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are unknown.

(11) The pallid pipehorse Solegnathus hardwickii and Duncker's pipehorse Solegnathus dunckeri are the only two syngnathid species allowed to be retained in the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery.

The Senator is referred to the Environment Australia web site at:

http://www.ea.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/assessment/qld/syngnathid/ministerial.html

which contains details of the agreed measures for monitoring these pipefish and the requirements for the Queensland Fisheries Service to develop measures to minimise the interactions of the fishery with syngnathids in general.

(12) See response for Question 11.

(13) (a) In its Draft Coral Reef Fin Fish Fishery Management Plan, the Queensland Fisheries Service did not include management measures to protect fish spawning aggregations on the Great Barrier Reef; (b) In an earlier draft version of the Plan, it was proposed to protect fish spawning aggregations; (c) The GBRMPA supported the inclusion of three nine-day closures in October, November and December each year (the main spawning time for fish such as coral trout) as a suitable management strategy to protect fish spawning aggregations as part of a suite of management arrangements; and (d) The GBRMPA does not support the targeting of fish spawning aggregations.

(14) The Queensland Fisheries Service manages most fisheries in and adjacent to Queensland and maintains a confidential register of primary commercial fishing boat licence holders, including details of all endorsements. The Senator will need to contact the Queensland Fisheries Service directly to obtain the information he requires.

(15) The Queensland Fisheries Service requires that statistical records be kept and provided to the Chief Executive by primary commercial fishing boat licence holders. Historically, the statistical records related to half-degree squares (30 nautical mile X 30 nautical mile squares) and smaller 6-minute squares (about 6 nautical miles X 6 nautical mile squares). Consequently, the precise location of historical commercial netting effort in Princess Charlotte Bay with respect to estuarine and intertidal waters and waters in the Conservation Park Zone of Princess Charlotte Bay are unknown. Discussions between GBRMPA staff and commercial net fishers and GBRMPA's knowledge of the manner in which the commercial net fishery operates in Princess Charlotte Bay indicate that a significant amount of netting effort has occurred and continues to occur in intertidal waters landward of the Conservation Park Zone.

(16) The total bill submitted by the GBRMPA to the Queensland Government for monitoring and other work at Nelly Bay Harbour as at 12 December 2002 is $3,869,688.65.

(17) In relation to the ferry landing facility, only the floating pontoon and associated piles are located within the GBRMP. On this basis:

(a) It is not the GBRMPA's role to undertake structural inspections of these facilities. These matters are considered to be adequately covered by other (State) legislation. The Environmental Site Supervisor has inspected the site to ensure environmental issues were considered during construction.

(b) Concrete areasassociated with the ferry landing facility are not within the GBRMP. The GBRMPA has no specific knowledge of the condition of concrete areas outside the GBRMP.

(c) No `sign off' is required from the GBRMPA for the landing facilities. A decision in respect of the operations of the facility has not yet been made.

(18) During construction, sediment levels in the harbour were in excess of limits imposed under approvals for dredging methodology. Works were undertaken between 3 and 18 October 2002 to remove excess silt. A meeting of the Technical Advisory Group on 7 November 2002 to evaluate survey results following works to remove excess silt, concluded that there would be no net environmental benefit in attempting to remove any remaining silt. On 20 November 2002, the permittee was notified that sediment accumulations had been removed to the satisfaction of the GBRMPA.

(19) In order to ensure the area comprising the breakwater is not excised from the GBRMP it is necessary that water flow under the bridge and around the breakwater on all sides at tide levels equivalent to or higher than mean low water.

Water flow under the bridge was temporarily blocked off during construction and must now be reinstated before the harbour works can be considered to be complete.

(20) The GBRMPA is not recommending a re-profiling of areas inside the harbour. Works inside the harbour are essentially complete with only minor works associated with landscaping of the main breakwater remaining. The GBRMPA is waiting on a proposed methodology and final design of works from the State of Queensland for the `unblocking' of the bridge and the reinstatement of mean low water around the breakwater.

(21) There is currently no dispute between the GBRMPA and the State on this issue. The State has been informed that no decision in relation to the operation of the harbour will be made until such time as the flow of water has been reinstated around the breakwater.

(22) The frequency of any maintenance dredging of Nelly Bay Harbour or the harbour channel, is not known. A permit will be required from the GBRMPA for any such dredging.

(23) A number of rock structures have been contemplated during the many years of design and construction of Nelly Bay Harbour, the most “groyne like” of these are listed below:

(a) the 1995 concept design contemplated revetments associated with a car park for the public boat ramp outside the harbour, however these structures are not contemplated at this time and have not been constructed.

- No information is available on file to indicate if these revetments had erosion management design criteria (so as to function as a groyne), other than for the protection of the proposed car park.

(b) the finger breakwater was described in the Environment Australia/ Queensland Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Assessment Report as the wave dissipater groyne. The finger breakwater has been constructed adjacent to the harbour entrance channel, it has been designed and constructed to reduce the impacts of current, wind and waves on operations within the harbour. The finger breakwater is one component of the harbour to facilitate the safe transfer of passengers at the ferry pontoons.

- No information is available on file to indicate if the finger breakwater had erosion management design criteria (so as to function as a groyne), other than the protection of the harbour from sea swell; and

(c) it is understood that the State proposes to seek approval to undertake works in the vicinity of the breakwater bridge to ensure the flow of water around the main southern breakwater at the Mean Low Water Mark. This work may include the placement of sand filled geo-fabric “socks” parallel to the bridge to minimise the movement of sand and other beach material into the harbour.

- A detailed design and construction methodology is yet to be received from the State.

(24) The GBRMPA does not receive details of all approvals given by either the local or state governments, therefore the number of `additional staged developments along the Queensland coast for which there are no current Commonwealth applications' is unknown.

(25) The number of coastal development approvals issued by local and state governments but not yet acted upon is unknown to the GBRMPA.

(26) The attached table outlines the 39 advices that were provided to state and local governments on coastal development applications under the Integrated Planning Act 1997 and responses to requests from proponents for advice in 2001-2002.

(27) For developments outside the jurisdiction of the GBRMPA (the advices referred to in Question 26), the GBRMPA only acts as an informal advice agency under the Integrated Development Assessment System process of the Integrated Planning Act 1997. Proponents are not legally bound to follow this advice, however, the GBRMPA's role has been successful in generally improving development proposals with respect to minimisation of the potential downstream impacts on the GBRMP.

(28) The issues are outlined in reports released on the World Wide Web in 2002, www.clevelandbayconsortium.com.

(29) (a) The outfall pipe is still operational;

(b) The pipeline structure is now within the GBRMP, the Halifax Bay Section, due to the gazettal of a number of new areas. The GBRMPA is currently processing a permit application for the pipeline.

Requests for advice on proposals that have potential to impact on GBRMP: Queensland agencies, July 2001 - July 2002

COASTAL DEVELOPMENTS Includes developments assessed under the Integrated Planning Act 1997 and requests for advice from proponents.

Development

Type

Shire

Infrastructure (eg. Port development, road upgrades, fuel facilities)

Townsville Port Access Study

Infrastructure

Townsville

Shute Harbour Sewerage Scheme

Infrastructure

Whitsunday

Shute Harbour Ferry Terminal upgrade

Infrastructure

Whitsunday

MCU - Shute Harbour Airport (Whitsundays)

Infrastructure

Whitsunday

Proposed new public boat ramp - Shute Harbour

Infrastructure

Whitsunday

Waste Transfer Station Harbour Road, Mackay Harbour

Infrastructure

Mackay

Sea Swift Pty Ltd - expansion of fuel storage area on Thursday Island

Infrastructure

Torres

Hummock Hill Satellite Launch Facility

Infrastructure/Tourism/ Residential

Miriam Vale

Small boat berthing facility, Mandalay Point, Whitsunday

Infrastructure

Whitsunday

Marinas

Hamilton Island Marina

Marina

Whitsunday

Magnetic Harbour Plan of Development

Marina/Tourism

Townsville

Residential Subdivisions

Botanica Estate Residential Subdivision Proposal, Airlie Beach

Residential

Whitsunday

Miran Khan Subdivision, Armstrong Beach

Residential

Mackay

Coral Gardens Project, Port Douglas

Residential

Douglas

Horizon Airlie Beach residential subdivision

Residential

Whitsunday

Eulbertie Park Estate, Mackay - Plan of Development

Residential

Mackay

Clough Constructions, Mandalay Road, Mandalay Point Airlie Beach

Residential

Mackay

Sharpe, Murray and Murray, Mandalay Road, Airlie Beach

Residential

Mackay

Whitsunday Design and Drafting, Miran Khan Drive, Freshwater Point

Residential

Mackay

Porter Promenade & Marine Parade, Mission Beach.

Residential

Cairns

McDonald Close, Mount Brampston via Bowen

Residential

Bowen

Material Change of use - Bruce Highway, Bramston Beach, Bowen

Residential

Bowen

Lot 4 on SP133872,Mandalay Road, Jubilee Pocket

Residential

Whitsunday

Brampston Beach, Bowen

Residential

Bowen

Gamburra Drive, Redlynch Valley Estate

Residential

Cairns

Tourism (eg. Resort, caravan park)

Castaway Bay Environmental Management Plan

Tourism

Whitsunday

Wongaling Beach Caravan Park, Banfield Parade, Wongaling Beach

Tourism

Cairns

Cayton Island Resort 63-93 Apjohn Street, Horseshoe Bay

Tourism

Townsville

Redevelopment of Dunoon Resort, Picnic Bay

Tourism

Townsville

Bloomsbury Midge Point Road, Midge Point

Tourism

Mackay

Mitre Street, Port Douglas

Tourism

Douglas

Renewal of Lease for parcel of land in Radical Bay - Magnetic Island

Tourism

Townsville

Adventure Whitsunday Caravan Park

Tourism

Whitsunday

Reconfiguration of Lots 96 and 31 - Port Douglas

Tourism

Douglas

Arcadia Resort, Magnetic Island

Tourism

Townsville

Golf Links Road - Lots 3, 20 & 21, Bowen

Tourism

Bowen

Conway Beach eco-resort

Tourism

Whitsunday

Loban Road, Thursday Island.

Tourism

Torres

Charon Point Rd, Marlborough, Lot 98 CP881496

Tourism

Livingstone

Amendment to Term Lease 216551 over Lot 1 SP145558, Parish of Filmer, Thursday Island

Tourism

Torres

Outback on the Coast Resort and Residential, Broadsound

Tourism/Residential

Broadsound

Industrial

Stuart Oil Shale Project 2 - Supplementary Report

Industrial

Gladstone