Call for Moratorium on Salmon Farm expansion in Storm Bay

Three community groups on Bruny Island joined to call for a moratorium on proposed expansion of finfish farming in Storm Bay.

Friends of North Bruny Inc. (FONB),  Bruny Island Comm-

unity Association (BICA) and the Bruny Island Environment Network (BIEN) today announced they are joining forces to demand a moratorium on expansion of finfish farming in the waters surrounding
Bruny Island including Storm Bay. The moratorium objectives are included in their joint submission regarding Huon Aquaculture, Tassal and Petuna’s expansion plans in Storm Bay lodged on Wednesday 17th .

Spokesperson for the groups Mr. Gerard Castles Vice President of FONB said,“We are NOT trying to stop fish farms, but we want a truly sustainable approach to finfish farming in the Bruny bioregion.” What we are calling for is a moratorium until such time as finfish farming is considered in relation to all other uses and users of resources in the waters surrounding Bruny Island and across Storm Bay.

“Our own research has shown that what is planned around Bruny is a massive expansion and we are calling on Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, to put a moratorium on finfish farming expansion until community concerns are addressed” The  argument is not about marine farming per se.  It is about the use, development and management of all resources in the Bioregion.

See the joint submission here.

 

Design ideas for cat confinement

The article here highlights the many benefits of keeping your pet cat confined.  As  the author states

“Cats have contributed to the extinction of dozens of Australia’s native mammals and birds, and are listed as a key threat to many currently endangered animals. Due to these devastating effects, there have been calls for pet cats to be permanently confined to their owner’s property. Cat owners might be surprised to find that their smooch puss is a highly effective killer: according to research in Canberra that followed cats for 12 months, 70 per cent of cats were bringing home prey monthly, and 6 per cent of cats were bringing home prey weekly. And that’s only the prey they decided to share!”

So if you have a pet cat have a look at these great suggestions.

Purr-fect design – Sanctuary Magazine

Felix is Environmental Champion for 2017

It was with great pleasure that I presented the Shaun Bromfield Environmental Champion Award to Felix O’Meara at the Bruny Island District School Final Assembly on Dec 18th. This is an annual award donated by BIEN in memory of founding member, Shaun Bromfield.

Felix (centre) with proud parents Ross O’Meara and Emma Harley

Felix is a fine young champion who at a very young age has displayed a passion and regard for the environment. He is a keen participant in school environmental activities and has assisted in wider community events such as the annual gull count.

 

The awards states that the recipient has

  • Outstandingly displayed the value of caring
  • Excellence in the skills of awareness and observation.
  • Has researched around an environmental issue.
  • Has used these skills in a practical way to inspire others, or to achieve a better outcome for the environment.

Felix not only received  a cash prize for himself but also two books donated for the school library in honour of his great work. Well done Felix!

Marg Graham

Reflections on the last year

by Bob Graham

Earlier in the year I prepared and presented a discussion paper which proposed that we engage with the process of developing a Government sponsored Destination Action Plan (DAP) for Bruny along with BICA, BIPIG and the Friends of North Bruny. All of these groups participated actively in the process and argued strongly that the plan should focus on increasing the resilience and capacity of the local community and the Island’s environment to cope with rapidly increasing tourism numbers.

The group responsible for DAP implementation agreed on those priorities and they were included in the final plan. BIEN provided significant input to the measures needed to achieve that.

However, it soon became apparent that the DAP process was not designed to deliver concrete results (despite the sincere efforts of the DAP co-ordinator).

BICA and BIEN after attempting to get better outcomes, publicly withdrew from the process in June. This has been a disappointing outcome as it was an attempt on our part to work with Government, Council and other community groups to achieve better environmental and community outcomes through the development process. Representatives of BICA and BIEN have concluded that community involvement was being used to legitimise the process.

The DAP affair raises a fundamental question of our effectiveness and role. It is not the only matter on which we have provided input and tried to work with Government and Council, only to see those efforts largely ignored.

The unfolding story of the Neck road and walking track upgrade has similar characteristics. We made submissions and provided input which specifically argued for a broader environmental focus (beyond penguins) and the need for a joint development and on ground management program involving Parks, State Growth and Council. That was agreed to in a meeting with State Growth and Council. Now all we have is the road and car park – minimal resourcing from Parks, no management program and the potential for increased environmental degradation with ever increasing numbers of visitors.

Whilst this sounds negative and defeatist, I think it reflects the growing confidence in Government that environmental lobby or action groups can be ignored.

This is reflected in a number of ways by all levels of Government.

The State Government has introduced a planning regime that provides zero protection for most of the State’s important environmental areas, including all State owned land on Bruny. Has any one noticed that the Federal Government is about to further tighten rules on tax deductions for environmental groups? Council continues to avoid their responsibility to enforce planning conditions. This situation makes it much more difficult to define an effective role for groups such as BIEN.

However, there is no evidence that the level of interest and involvement in environmental matters has lessened, and we have large numbers of individuals and communities who do see environmental issues as critical. Bruny is still promoted widely as a place with significant environmental attributes, and there is a strong interest among visitors in those attributes.

I have given all of these things a lot of thought (usually at 3am) and have tried to observe what is happening elsewhere. I think it is pointing us in the direction of lowering our sights somewhat and trying to develop an approach built on shorter term more achievable and realistic results. We have been successful in some of these things in the past. Maybe it is time to go back and revisit an approach that highlights local issues and is built around activities to do with those issues. As we are no longer directly responsible for the Bird Festival and the fact that we have some resources we have an opportunity to pursue some different aims.

BIEN Convenors Report to the 2017 AGM

by Bob Graham

Following the success of the 2016 Bird Festival, things have been relatively quiet. The festival consumed most of our efforts and resources in the months prior to the event. In particular Daniel Sprod’s hard work and dedication in his role as festival co-ordinator underpinned that success. It demonstrated clearly that the coordinator’s position is crucial to the success of the festival. Thanks are due once again to our partners Birdlife Tasmania and Inala and the wonderful volunteers who support the staging of this event.

The 2016 festival also demonstrated that future festivals can be self sustaining. Accordingly, a joint management group consisting of Birdlife Tasmania, Inala, BIEN, Nick Mooney (Australian Raptors Association) and Sally Bryant (Tasmanian Land Conservancy) is in the process of being established. Cat Davidson has been appointed as the 2018 festival co-ordinator and planning is well advanced under the guidance of the wider group. BIEN will still continue to be closely involved but we can now give more attention to other environmental issues on Bruny.

Throughout the year BIEN has continued to be engaged with a number of activities, including;

✦ The Bruny Island cat management strategy – BIEN has been a participant in the strategy which is being managed through Kingborough Council.  Kaylene Allen, the Cat Management Officer, has developed the strategy in discussion with BIEN, BICA and the Primary Industries Group. BIEN has contributed funds to support the strategy. That strategy includes a cat by-law and Kingborough Council is in the process of developing that. Bruny was also selected as one of five Islands around Australia for Federally funded cat management programs;

✦ Agreement on a tribute for Louise Crossley to be held next year;

✦ Re-design and reprinting the wildlife on Bruny brochure;

✦ Purchase of a container for equipment storage;

✦ Wildlife monitoring – two workshops facilitated by Daniel Sprod and Matt Taylor (co-sponsored with TLC) have been held and a number of individuals have monitored wildlife on their properties using equipment supplied through the program;

✦ Shorebirds – signage and fencing to increase awareness and provide some protection of nesting sites has been put up on beaches primarily in Adventure Bay. Several pairs of hooded plovers nested successfully on the main beach and Two Tree Point Beach. Pied Oystercatchers also successfully raised chicks. Of note has been the dramatic increase in the population of Crested Terns which appear to have partially usurped silver and Pacific Gulls;

✦ Web Site – the BIEN web site is now working;

✦ Continued monitoring on the possibility of logging recommencing on Bruny – nothing new to report, but the Island’s production forests have been removed from the interim reserve list

✦ Submissions to PWS and State Growth on the Neck redevelopment;

✦ Participation in workshops on the Destination Action Plan, Plan and the “Trove” concept;

✦ Developing the idea of environmental accounting – including talk by Peter Cosier;

✦ Weed removal at Grass Point; and

✦ Liaison with Bruny Island School.

The year has largely been one of continuing work begun in previous years. I want to thank the Committee and members for their support and work throughout the past 12 months.

Potential activities for BIEN going forward

Due to Governments’ seeming view that ignoring needs to the environment and groups trying to engage at a policy level (see blog here) , there is potential for BIEN to become a much more “hands on” group.  Here is a list of possible activities that could be successfully pursued:

✦ Develop a system of environmental accounts for the Island

✦ Monitor wildlife – particularly threatened species such as the swift parrot

✦ Ongoing shorebird protection – maybe we could also have community field days for residents and visitors and group activities to implement protective measures.

✦ Working with BI school and assisting with environmental education activities

✦ Regular information articles in Bruny News (this could be a double page spread as the school does)

✦ Wider use of social media and posting to this website

✦ Environmental works (e.g. Ragwort removal, tree planting, nest boxes, etc)

✦ Becoming a source of environmental information (through social media, web site, Bruny News) on sustainability and environmental management issues

✦ Continued support for the Cat Management Program

✦ Regular forums on environmental issues

✦ Support research activities into environmental issues, including working with researchers

✦ Excursions/field days

✦ Sponsor BI film society to show films of environmental interest

✦ Monitoring and publicising shifts in Government policy on matters such as forestry, land use planning

✦ Working with BICA to develop a “Respect Bruny” campaign for visitors

✦ Provide visitor information through commercial outlets and accommodation places

Feedback from members and interested people is always welcomed: contact us here.

Tassal and Huon Aquaculture seek community views

Jane Ryan – Community Engagement Advisor with Huon Aquaculture has invited everyone interested to a consultation session 12 September 2017,  6 – 8:30pm at the Alonnah Community Hall.

Contact Jane Ryan, Community Engagement Advisor, Huon Aquaculture mobile 0468 632 044  and email jryan@huonaqua.com.au

Luke Kapitany for Tassal, is seeking volunteers to participate in Community Advisory Groups across the regions that they operate including Bruny Island. They seek representatives from Environment, Education, Community, tourism and local Business groups as well as Council delegates as a community representative voice.

Contact Luke Kapitany – Community Engagement Officer TASSAL GROUP LIMITED – mobile 0408 149 768 and email luke.kapitany@tassal.com.au

The key changes being carried out by these companies is expansion into Storm Bay (see our previous article on this).

Cat Management survey results

Responses from many (22 of 28) cat owners on Bruny Island confirmed the current approach in supporting owners to desex, microchip and contain their beloved moggies. Interestingly, the bulk of owners were already doing at least some of these things, but 4 households said they would not contain their animals.

Backyard playpen for cats.

 

These results align closely with research conducted elsewhere showing cat owners are critical to success in reducing the impact of cats on wildlife and that they need costs of participation reduced, and plenty of support to help them make the changes for their cats.  The full report is available here and makes interesting reading.

Of the 22 households surveyed, 19 own 1 or 2 cats, one has three cats and two households had more than 3 cats.  These 2 households reported that this was due to having undesexed cats and to their feeding of strays.

Despite most households have desexed (96%) and microchipped (86% ) cats , about a quarter of all cats were not desexed or microchipped due to the large number of cats in one household.

Providing financial subsidies was identified most frequently by respondents to encourage desexing and micro-chipping. This was followed by offering these services on the island.

Key recommendations arising from the survey were to:

  • continue individual one-on-one cat owner engagement to identify and address individual barriers and motivators;
  • enhance the established programs particularly to build cat owner capability and motivation, specifically:

1.  extend the advisory and design/building assistance to all individual households (with cats) requiring assistance.
2.  develop and distribute a cat containment guide. The guide will include containment options; environmental enrichment for a cat’s physical and emotional needs; addressing stressors in individual cats; and training principles to support transition.
3.  document and photograph new cat containment stories (& where appropriate video).
4.  print and distribute (to individual households on Bruny) additional stickers (developed by students on Bruny).
5. purchase 4 GPS cat trackers for use with the program.

  • continue to promote the By-law engagement program so that ideally all Bruny cat owners are engaged. Door-knock Bruny households (over summer) to discuss the By-laws and broader cat management on the island and ultimately engage more cat owners. Consideration will then be given to undertake a mail-out to all Bruny households and rate payers.

 

 

Field Officer: cat management on Bruny Island

Cat at the Neck bird colony

Interested in working at the cutting edge of wildlife management? Do we have the job for you!

Working up to 38 hours a week, the position will responsible for the on-ground monitoring and control activities to support the “Progressing feral cat eradication on Bruny Island – a Threatened Species Strategy project”, employed through the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

Contact Peter McGlone, Director, TCT by email peter@tct.org.au or phone 03 6234 3552 (business hours) and see the full position description here.

BIEN Annual General Meeting 2017

Mark the date: Saturday October 14th, 3pm at the Adventure Bay Hall

As usual, we will be seeking nomination for the office bearers.  This year, our inaugural Convenor, the redoubtable Bob Graham will be stepping down, so nominations for Convenor are warmly invited (respond to bien.treasurer@gmail.com), as are those for the other positions (Secretary, Treasurer, Public Officer and Co-convenor).

We were to have Brett Woodruff, Cat Management Officer with the Council and TCT along to reagle us with catty comments, but unfortunately Brett has moved back to the Land of the Long White Cloud, so we will update you with our new focus as news comes to hand.