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Dredging Activities Threaten Livelihood Of Local Abalone Farm In Kangaroo Island

A $25 million deep-sea timber port, which has been proposed for Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island, is a cause of concern to a nearby abalone farm, for fear that its development could destroy the marine values of the area and deplete its entire abalone stock. Environmental reports, commissioned by Yumbah Aquaculture, indicate that high sediment loads created through construction and operation of the port present a huge long-term risk to the marine ecology of Smith Bay.

Dredging activities are likely to put pressure on these sensitive marine habitats, by increasing turbidity and the occurrence of toxic and exotic species entering the Smith Bay ecosystem. Dredging transfers unwanted organisms and nutrients into other parts of the water-body, leading to contamination and eutrophication.

This in turn will affect water quality and in turn impact on the environmental and recreational values of the area. Specifically, construction activities are likely to play a significant role in destroying the viability of the adjacent Yumbah Aquaculture’s abalone farm, which has been in operation for more than 2 decades. Development of the port would require significant dredging to occur in order to allow movement of large bulk carriers. During (and after) construction, the increased turbidity generated by dredging activities, would likely create an increase in fine sediments and organic particles, which could eventually choke the abalone.

Furthermore, issues with light and increased vibration would prevent the abalone from feeding, by inhibiting the survival of phytoplankton, their main food source. The produce from Yumbah Aquaculture is sold both domestically and to foreign markets and generates approximately 160 tonnes per year. If they lose all their stock, they will be unable to supply their customer base who have supported them for years, and in turn will eventually go out of business. Although the development of the timber port will generate employment and boost economic activity in the region, it will come at a hefty cost for Yumbah Aquaculture and could prove devastating to the business’ abalone production as well as pose an enormous threat to the marine environment in Smith Bay.

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