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News and Comment

Where have all the Pipis Gone? (posted 19/7/2011)

What is your experience? Have pipis disappeared from your beach? Anecdotal reports are saying, yes, there are far fewer pipis now than there used to be. So what has happened? Suggestions are (1) that there has been over-harvesting, and (2) that a disease is responsible. However, there is no data to help provide the answer. At present pipis should only be collected for fishing bait by the general community. However, there is some commercial harvesting on a few beaches. Pipis are an important part of the food chain; supporting both fish and birds.

The Minister responsible for fisheries, Katrina Hodgkinson, has decided that there will be a partial closure of the commercial fishery, that a shareholders group will be established, and that scientists will begin monitoring pipi numbers. The shareholders group will include commercial, indigenous and community representatives. A bag limit, a minimum size, and an off-season may be imposed.

Cane Toads Hideout has been Found (posted 26/5/2011)

The breeding site of cane toads in the Taren Point region of Sutherlandshire has been discovered. Tracking devices - radio transmitters - were attached to the backs of some of the toads and this led University of Sydney scientists to a pond in the industrial area. Modern electronics can be so small and light that a toad has no problem carrying a transmitter.

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Uni of Canberra Bans Bottled Water (posted 27/4/2011)

Bundanoon, Kangaroo Valley and Milton are local towns which supply water filling stations in an effort to reduce the purchase of bottled water. Many reasons are given to support such behaviour, for example 200mL of oil are required to produce a 600 mL bottle, considerable amounts of CO2 are created in the production and transport of the bottles, empty bottles are a common component of our litter, etc. Now the University of Canberra bans the sale of bottled water on campus. Special bottles for refill can be purchased and refill stations and bubblers are available. The University is the first Australian university to take this action.

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A Dangerous New Insect Pest (posted 23/3/2011)

Sometimes it seems that Australia is home to countless exotic pests (both flora and fauna) which we are powerless to control. Here is another one; the Asian bee (Apis Cerana) which has established itself around Cairns and now is expanding its territory. Some people have labelled it the cane toad of the insect world. These foreign bees often carry parasites which can infect our normal bee populations, thus adversely affecting honey production and pollination of our food crops. Since 2007, when they were first discovered, the Queensland authorities (financially supported by the Federal Government) have been trying to eradicate these bees. But recently Canberra has accepted the advice of scientists that the spread is now unstoppable. So funds for eradication will cease and the spread will worsen. Not surprisingly there are many people unhappy with the decision. The sale of our bees to the USA (which suffers from "Colony Collapse Disorder") is likely to be affected.

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Fish Killer Identified (posted 11/3/2011)

The cause of the fish kill has now been identified as a toxic microalga, namely Karlodinium micrum. This particular microalga is found worldwide and in fact has been found in Australia previously. Toxins are released into the water when the microalgae die and if the density is high enough a fish kill can occur. What caused the death of the microalgae is not known.

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Jervis Bay Fish Kill (posted 18/1/2011)

At present a fish kill is occurring in Jervis Bay Marine Park, mainly in the Hare Bay region. Dead and dying fish are being washed up on nearby beaches. The kill was first noted at the beginning of the month. So far attempts to determine the cause of the death have been unsuccessful. Tests are "ongoing" according to the Marine Park people. Water quality and salinity have been checked and are normal. An algal bloom may be the most likely killer but could be difficult to identify. It is suggested that people refrain from swimming in the area and do not eat any fish that they catch.

Expansion of the Basin's Artificial Reef (posted 16/11/2010)

In February 2007 six artificial reefs were installed in St Georges Basin just south of Sanctuary Point. In practice the reefs are quite close together and can be considered as a single reef. This installation was a trial but has proved so popular with fish and fishermen that recently Minister Steve Whan, NSW Department of Primary Industries (media release 9 November 2010) announced that they will add another 600 of the hollow concrete balls which make up the reefs. The original trial consisted of 180 concrete balls each of which weighs almost 1 tonne and is hollow with a number of access holes providing shelter for fish. As a result the Basin will have the largest artificial reef in NSW. Monies received from recreational fishing licences are used to create artificial reefs.

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Cane Toads in Sutherland Shire (posted 26/7/2010)

There have been occasional reports of cane toads in Sydney since 1983 but initially it was considered that they were not breeding because the winter temperatures were too low. However, in the news recently has been the discovery of cane toads in the Taren Point region of Sutherland Shire. From the size range of these toads it is estimated that the toads have been breeding for at least three years. A negative impact is expected on the native fauna (including frogs), predators, and cats and dogs. The authorities and experts are concerned that they may spread into the Towra Point Nature Reserve and the Royal National Park. However, there isn't yet the need for a Great Toad Muster such as happens in the Northern Territory once a year. Up to 48,000 toads are captured in the Muster !

Coincidentally a new documentary film on cane toads was shown recently in this year's Sydney Film Festival - this was its Australian premiere.

If cane toads have evolved to cope with the winters of the south of Sydney then it perhaps will be possible for them to survive further down the coast in the St Georges Basin area?

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The Tomerong Mega-Tip (posted 3/2/2010)

You may have seen signs in various local places protesting against the proposed Tomerong Quarry Mega-tip. But note that the future of the proposal depends on the Southern Region Joint Regional Planning Panel, not Shoalhaven Shire Council.

The proposal is for a non-putrescible waste facility where all materials, containers, etc, should be inert i.e. oils should have been drained off, paints, resins, glues, etc, should be set, dry, insoluble and immobile in the environment. That is the theory - but with the tip close to Tomerong, St Georges Basin (both town and lake), Jervis Bay, Moona Moona and Tomerong Creeks - what will happen in practice?

Various frightening "astronomical" statistics have been aired e.g. 11,000 B-double truck movements per annum. Surely such a facility is not compatible with the Tomerong-St Georges Basin area. Can you picture these trucks making their way along the Princes Highway, through places such as Milton-Ulladulla and Berry, to reach the Tip via Island Point Road and Gumden Lane?

Note added later; the SRJPP rejected the proposal on 21/10/2010

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The Fish Lift at Tallowa Dam (posted 26/8/09)

For a long time supporters of the Shoalhaven River have been concerned about those migratory native fish whose movements have been curtailed by the barrier of Tallowa Dam. On Saturday the 22nd of this month the fish lift at the dam was officially opened by the NSW Water Minister, Phil Costa. The fish lift is a first in the state and the largest of its kind (i.e. fitted to a dam) in Australia. It is part of a project to increase environmental flows to the downstream river which in turn should result in a healthier river

NOTE: This news page will be updated as matters of interest and concern come to hand. The page will usually be restricted to about ten items - most recent at the top. In general when a new item is listed the last one (the oldest) will be removed.

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