In this issue of "Sunfish News" we are featuring one of the major environmental issues which the fishery in Queensland faces at the present time. This environmental issue is the exposure of acid sulfate soils.

The exposure of this potential time bomb could have devastating effects on Queensland’s fisheries in the long term. Unfortunately, along the coastal regions of this State this exposure is wrapped up in many other detrimental downstream effects on our State’s fisheries. The clearing of our remaining coastal rainforest, the clearing of melaleuca forests, the draining of our remaining wetlands and other encroachments on marginal coastal lands for agriculture are having a major effect on our fisheries.

These fisheries are worth, in economic terms, hundreds of millions of dollars per annum to Queensland’s economy and yet they are being devastated by other industries without a care in the world.

We cannot allow this rape to continue for, if we lose the environmental battle, we will have lost the fisheries of this state and they will not be recoverable in our lifetime, if ever.

The time has come to address the problems we are facing. All parties have to face the consequences of their actions and need to get together to try to solve the problems with which the fishery is faced.

One of the major problems with the denuding of the coastal wetlands is the exposure of acid sulfate soils to oxidisation, resulting in the production of sulfuric acid in huge quantities. This causes the extermination of all marine life which come in contact with it.

There is probably only one major pollutant which has a longer-term effect on the environment than acid sulfate soils - that is nuclear waste. These types of soils which were exposed over forty years ago in northern NSW are still producing vast quantities of sulfuric acid.

We have people saying that these soils can be successfully managed but that is being contested by many people. I do not have the answers because there are many scientists looking at this problem who cannot answer the same question. Many think that the so-called fixes pose a greater threat than the original problem. If there is one thing we do not want it is the exacerbation of the problems we are already facing.

It is time that we in the fishery, along with those who are impacting on the environment, sat down together and had a good hard look at the problems we are facing in regard to our fishery. There is room for all users of our resources but we have to make sure none of us abuses that resource to the detriment of each other and the life which depends so much for its very existence on the environment we are dealing with.


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