Save the seagrass


Manly MP James Griffin is calling for changes to regulation protecting the marine environment at Cabbage Tree Bay, following reports of damage to seagrass from boats and watercraft.

Mr Griffin has launched a petition asking for public support to amend the current aquatic reserve regulations at the bay – between Manly and Shelly Beach – to better protect the local ecosystem.

The environmentally significant reserve is jointly managed by state agencies and Northern Beaches Council.

While the Department of Primary Fisheries manages the aquatic habitat, Transport for NSW oversees all boating and watercraft activities.

Under current regulations, boats can anchor in the bay in areas where there is no seagrass and watercraft, such as flite boards can be used, as long as riders maintain safe speed limits and keep out of the way of swimmers.

Mr Griffin is petitioning for the marine sanctuary to be extended around the bay to Blue Fish Point and for regulations to be strengthened to make clear anchoring is prohibited in areas with seagrass.

“The issue we are finding is important seagrass is being ripped up by anchors of boaters unaware of the potential damage they are causing,” Mr Griffin said.

“The NSW Government has previously sought public consultation on a plan to extend the Marine Sanctuary in 2019 and received clear feedback for the need to protect the bay and strike the balance between boat users and swimmers alike. It’s time we put that into action.”

His campaign comes as Northern Beaches Council released a report in March into the impact boating, motorised foils (flite boards) and scuba divers are having on the reserve.

The report found data on the effect boat anchoring is having on seagrass beds is limited, while there is little information on the impacts of flite boards on marine life.

While satellite imagery indicates seagrass in the area has increased over the last 12 years, Council says this ‘has not been verified by ecological surveys and does not account for any localised impacts caused by anchors’.

Council has requested NSW Fisheries undertake seagrass mapping in the reserve at the next opportunity to review any impacts.

Stephanie Aikins

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