Att Sydney sailors: Anchoring threat to Quarantine and Manly Cove West

Quarantine Bay proposal
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Attention Sydney sailors: Have your say on proposed anchoring restrictions in Quarantine Bay and Manly Cove West. NSW Maritime bureaucracies have put out an Issues Paper for Public Consultation which could potentially forbid anchoring in these two bays in order to protect the sea grass in the bays. They are asking for your feedback on several options.

The Department of Primary Industries -Fisheries ('Fisheries NSW') and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), in consultation with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are proposing the changes.

They articulately argue that seagrass is vital habitat for adult and juvenile fish and that the seagrass beds at Quarantine Beach and Manly Cove West are becoming degraded and are much smaller than they once were. The loss of seagrass will affect the health and numbers of fish that live in these areas. Harming seagrass is against the law and the changes discussed would help boat users reduce the likelihood of their harming seagrass when anchoring.

The Issues Paper provides background on why seagrasses need protection at Quarantine Beach and Manly Cove West. It also provides diagrams (reproduced here) showing where the seagrass occurs and the
anchoring restriction options being considered.

They give every indication of being reasonable, saying that 'Feedback from boat users will be used to achieve a workable balance. It will take a few months from the end of the consultation period before any changes are finalised'.

This is all very well, but what escapes me is why the bureaucrats are trying to reinvent the wheel - er, keel.

There are already in existence dozens, if not hundreds, indeed if not thousands, of bays round the world where a fragile seabed is threatened by anchoring, and where local authorities have taken action to preserve the precious sea environment.

Mostly the problem is solved by the putting down of permanent moorings, cleverly designed so that the mooring chains do not drag across or otherwise disrupt the seabed or its sealife below.

Sailing boats on moorings in Bonaire, Caribbean. 60 have been installed to protect the sea floor
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In the tiny Dutch Island of Bonaire in the Caribbean, for instance, no anchoring at all is allowed, but a very comprehensive array of moorings are strategically aligned. Not only do they protect the seabed, they stop that other horror of the haphazard anchorage, the boat that anchors on top of you in the night, then drags anchor.

If you, as a Sydney sailor or other interested party, wish to express your opinion on this you need to do so by 1 June 2012. If you have other suggestions or concerns, you are asked to provide background information to support the changes you would like to see. No form letters are acceptable they say.

Submissions can be submitted electronically using the submissions form available on the
web at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries
or can be sent to:
North Harbour Issues Paper Submissions
NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries)
1243 Bruxner Highway
Wollongbar NSW 2477
or by facsimile to (02) 6626 1377

Manly Cove West
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