Have your say or lose the South Esk River:
G’day fellow anglers / angling club representatives,
A quick and very important note in regards to the South Esk River, one of Tasmania’s most visited river fisheries. The State Government has just released a Draft Management Plan which will govern future use and management of the river, and there is a period for public comment open until the 11 December 2009.
Of importance to anglers are the recommended minimum environmental flows. When the river reaches these levels from December to April, irrigation takes will cease. Two purposes of these minimum flows are to protect the environment, and recreational (social) values of the river.
The scientists commissioned to recommend the environmental flow rates (also known as ‘cease to take flows’), recommended 100-160ML/Day flow rates. These levels would preserve the environment, and maintain minimum levels for anglers and other recreational users. My own detailed fishing records from the past eight years also show that the river is fishable down to a flow of 100ML/Day, but any lower and the flow all but stops, the river temperatures get too high, and the trout and bug life enter into survival mode.
Despite the recommendations from the government-commissioned scientists, the Draft Management Plan is recommending environmental flows of 40ML/Day – less than half the recommended flows. This will mean that the river is un-fishable for large periods of time during the season, and that fish and bug life will be under stress for months at a time. The South Esk fishery would be impacted upon heavily, if not destroyed, given that the Draft Plan will also be encouraging and permitting increased levels of irrigation directly from the river. The Draft Plan has this to say of its own 40ML/Day environmental flows:
‘this Plan maintains baseflows in the South Esk River up to 40 ML/day during the December – April period… During the December – April period, the cease to take flow threshold is considerably less than the recommended minimum environmental flow thresholds (100 – 160 ML/day), and hence there is a higher level of risk to the environment as a result…Whilst it would be preferable to set cease to take flow thresholds as recommended, the potential impact on irrigation water supply would have been significant.’
The Draft Plan recognises that an environmental flow rate of 40ML/Day will risk environmental damage to the river. In risking damage to the environment, and by recommending flow rates of less than 100-160ML/Day as advised by the scientists, the Draft Plan fails to meet its own listed Environmental Objectives (2.2.1 (a), (b), (d)) and Social Objectives (2.2.3 (a), (b), (c)) (from page 9). The Draft Management Plan also fails to meet its requirement to ‘ensure that environmental water receives a greater level of security than consumptive water’ (from page 34).
In a nutshell, one of Tasmania’s most fished rivers will be destroyed by the Plan in its current draft state. Anglers need to demand that the environmental flows are set to the recommended 100-160ML/Day. This will allow for planned irrigation development, but will also protect the environment and angling. The time to act is now. I ask that any concerned anglers or clubs view the Draft Management Plan here and have your say by making a submission to:
Contact: Water Management Planning Officer
Water Management Planning Officer
1 Franklin Wharf HOBART TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6233 4807
Fax: 03 6224 4977
Feel free to use the information above. The deadline for written representations is 11 December 2009, and there are two public forums being held at Fingal and Longford on the 21 October (full details on the website).
Please have your say, and pass this message on.
Thanks for your time.