Greed’s Heavy Footstep
The view from Goat’s Bluff is splendiferous and uplifting, but it’s a threatened vista because the toads are coming. I didn’t know if such a term (threatened vista) for endangered beauty existed but then I found literature on seascapes and this, right here on a Tas government site:
‘The condition of scenic landscape values is important for Tasmania for a variety of reasons… landscape values often have an association with environmental and natural resource values – the values that people appreciate in a landscape may often also be important ecologically.’
And the report goes on to recommend that ‘… scenic landscapes and areas of consistent and recognisable landscape character be recognised in local and regional strategies in relation to beneficial values including natural resource management; open space and recreation; vegetation management; catchment management; and coastal management.’
Which brings us to the messy issue surrounding Storm Bay
Storm Bay is bound by North Bruny Island, South Arm Peninsula, the Tasman Peninsula and the tip of the Tinderbox Peninsula, which means that there are any number of brilliant perspectives from which you can view this tempestuous bay.
It’s the wilds – right there, where the Derwent River and the D’Entrecasteaux enter it in company and sometimes a gale blowing across the bay can bring that sense of the menacing wild right up the river and into the city.
Storm Bay has a few anchorages along the exposed coastline of Bruny Island for yachts seeking sanctuary from foul weather. Samos has hung out in Bull Bay off North Bruny enjoying this environment distinct from the river, where the movement of the swell and the surf hold warnings and the feeling of being out here is unique from the river and Channel.
Let’s Not Forget the Voiceless
It’s not just people who are vested in the bay. It provides feeding grounds for the migratory shearwater and other shorebirds and seabirds. It is traversed by dolphins and whales, penguins and seals. Life flourishes on its reefs and I hope you’ll agree that seaweeds have a right to the good life too.
Storm Bay is the magnificently scenic entry that stops people’s hearts when approaching Hobart by sea, the you and me as well as those Sydney-Hobart sailors and passengers on cruise liners. And rounding the Iron Pot, as you sail down the Derwent marks the point, both mental and physical, at which you finally feel you are sailing the ocean, albeit coastal.
It is the aquatic commons of the whole glorious multiplicity of us and its moody beauty is deeply loved. Even on a fine day you know its mood can change in an instant and with too much sail out you are quickly humbled.
Goodbye to All That
Storm Bay is about to change into an industrial zone. The three Tasmanian fish farming companies – Tassal, Petuna and Huon Aquaculture – are encroaching massively on our aquatic commons and while their heady expansion plans are good for the economy in the short term, the public’s interest and that of other sentient and non-sentient communities stand to be sacrificed by government complicity. There are fish farm leases planned for Storm Bay and they’ll be visible over vast distances, all around the lovely shoreline. The relaxing high and sense of connection that Nature gifts us will give way to further despair. The scenic vistas will be destroyed.
We have already lost grand views and the sense of desolation many of us feel when we try to navigate through multiple leases or view bays and waterways taken up by ugliness reflects the all consuming loss felt by the people we replaced when their hunting grounds and sacred sites became no go areas and disappeared under pasture and houses. This time, buried in that same greed and disdain lies self mutilation.
Navigating Storm Bay, especially in gales, will become more dangerous. The plastic pollution, the exceeded nitrogen caps and the damage to reefs that the companies have caused in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Macquarie Harbour will happen here too. These companies are bringing along that same disdain for the commons, those same bad habits. For example, so often they’ve been advised that when towing pens they need markers on their lines because the distance can be such that other vessels could accidentally cross between with dire consequences. This week, in the Channel, we again noticed a tow underway without markers. It’s disrespectful, it’s frustratiang and it’s downright dangerous.
The weight of the farms on top of visible climate change impacts worries a lot of us down this part of the world. After all, we are a climate change hot spot.
It’s beyond disappointing that the companies said they were heading offshore then chose to plonk themselves down in this significant coastal bay – to plonk themselves down in the magnificent entrance to the Derwent. And rather than deep ocean – just take a lead from this, guys – they’re heading for the coastal zones of our offshore islands, those last bastions of the birds. There, amongst sparsely habited islands they can get away with environmental savagery. But on King Island some are beginning to cry foul.
In the future, Petuna’s leases just south of Betsey Island are going to marr the Goats Bluff view. Tassal’s will probably be visible too. You’ll see pens from Bruny and that’s why the locals are concerned there too. Friends of North Bruny, the Bruny Island Community Association and the Bruny Island Environment Network have joined forces to call for a moratorium on this alarming expansion of fish farms into Storm Bay.
Almost everyone wants these companies to really be clean and green and to excel at that, as opposed to dirtying the waterways they’ve encroached into. But that means upping their standards and appreciating the limits to growth, respecting the public and their customers. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t seem to be something they’re in any rush to do.
We only have one planet. Let’s stop hampering its efforts to nourish us.
For more information:
Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.  Salmon Farming Proposals in Storm Bay
DPIPWE. 2017. Sustainable industry growth plan for the salmon industry. Hobart. The Dept.
Guarnieri, G et al. 2016. The Challenge of Planning Conservation Strategies in Threatened Seascapes: Understanding the Role of Fine Scale Assessments of Community Response to Cumulative Human Pressures. PLOS. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149253