Home' Afloat : AFLOAT April 2015 Contents Take monthly with water April 2015 45
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
Manly and Spring coves in North
Harbour and Chowder Bay
off Port Jackson are just two
recreational playgrounds among 11
popular spots now being monitored as
a precursor to creating a greater Sydney
Marine Park. The scientists’ report will be
given to government next February.
But we must live in hope. With the
backing of the Boat Owners Association,
Boating Industry Association and
sensible decision makers in Government
departments, local boaters and fishers
extinguished proposed boating bans in
Manly Cove a few years back.
This win against local environmental
groups resulted in the installation of five
seagrass-friendly moorings to the west
of Manly Wharf and retained our right
to anchor and fish in this century’s old
Of course, Manly Cove and Spring
coves are home to NSW’s only mainland
colony of 60 breeding pairs of Little
penguins. Their population has remained
stable for the last six years, but it has
obviously declined from what would have
existed pre-white settlement.
The penguins are central to the push
to create a marine park in Sydney Harbour
and further curtail boating and fishing.
Thing is, penguin loss is mainly due to
a loss of suitable habitat (addressed in
respect of anchoring), attacks by foxes
and dogs, and disturbances at nesting
sites, says Environment NSW.
Areas of Manly Cove, namely around
Federal Point, and Store and Quarantine
beaches in Spring Cove, have long been
declared critical penguin habitat. On July 1
each year, the NSW Office of Environment
and Heritage (OEH) installs a number of
seasonal buoys in the water to mark the
aquatic boundary of this critical habitat
These seasonal buoys are taken
out when the breeding season ends on
February 28 each year, says OEH on its
website. Fact is, they are not removed
any more at all. The actual conditions of
their installation and supposed removal
aren’t advertised and most boaters think
you can’t anchor in close to Store and
Quarantine beaches year round.
This management by stealth reduces
the available anchoring and boating waters
on Sydney Harbour, so hopefully there is
more clarity with management of these
areas in future.
While you aren’t permitted to anchor
over seagrass, there are plenty of sandy
patches close to Store and Quarantine
beaches over which to anchor from now
until July 1.
These will be inside the 50-metre buoy
markers, which in some cases are more like
100 metres from shore, but the anchoring
bans stated on the buoys don’t apply until
July 1. Get in there and make the most of
it for Easter.
On land, penguins are helpless. In the
water, they are incredibly agile. They nest
under the Manly Ferry wharf, dodge the jet
cats and roam right up into the Parramatta
River, and are often seen bobbing about
under the wildly busy Harbour Bridge amid
the ferry chaos.
You won’t run over a penguin in
your boat in the aforesaid 4-knot speed
limited covering the critical habitat zones.
Yet there’s no fishing and no motorised
in critical habitat
between sunset and sunrise
from July 1 to February 28 each year. This
makes no sense, as penguins are too smart
to be hit by a tender or caught on a hook.
The ban on squid fishing in North
Harbour is similar nonsense and if pollies
really do embrace science then they would
overturn these two silly bits of draconian
law. Let anglers fish for squid in North
Harbour, as squid are short-lived, fecund
and abundant, and let us wet a line year
We are also told not to make too
much noise, use bright lights or create a
disturbance around the critical penguin
habitat. Beach parties fuelled by social
media are moved along and that’s a good
thing. But at the same time, National
Parks and local councils are happy to take
fees from commercial operators running
bootcamps at dawn, setting up and renting
picnic settings under umbrellas, and
hosting ghost tours at night.
At Quarantine Station, the leaseholder
runs a restaurant and bar alongside
penguins nesting boxes. We have no
problem with this, other than to highlight
the kinds of contradictions taking place
with respect to our boating and fishing
rights. At Chowder Bay, Sydney Institute
of Marine Science has openly welcomed
the prospect of more and greater marine
parks including in its neck of the harbour.
Fishing and boating in Sydney is
central to our identity, psyche, wellbeing
and on-water industries. We have co-
existed and communed with nature for
centuries and places like Manly and Spring
coves and Chowder Bay are treasures
today that bear testimony to that fact
that we care.
On land, Little penguins are helpless. In
the water, they are incredibly agile.
Ocean Hunter at Store Beach.
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