There are a range of natural and social values within the Port of Devonport and its surrounds that could be impacted by marine pollution if not managed carefully, TasPorts says.
TasPorts CEO Anthony Donald said these included sensitive habitats, threatened and protected species and recreational amenity for Tasmanians who regularly used the area.
“For example, there are a number of key recreational beaches around the Port, including Coles, Bluff, Pardoe and East Devonport Beaches,” he said.
“Recreational fishing is popular in the estuary where fish commonly caught includes flathead, whiting, Australian salmon, silver trevally brown trout and blackfin bream.
“In addition, a small commercial scale fish fishery operates in the adjacent coastal areas.
“Further, the entire estuary around the port is recognised as an important feeding and resting habitat for nationally and internationally-protected migratory shore birds.
“A range of resident shore birds also inhabit the area, and little penguins are common in and around Devonport.”
TasPorts has been actively managing the ongoing risk of marine pollution in the Mersey River after the cement carrier Goliath collided with two berthed TasPorts tugs (York Cove and Campbell Cove) causing both vessels to sink.
Mr Donald said the incident brought into sharper focus the protection of these critical natural and social values.
“Protecting these habitats, species and recreational amenity is obviously important,” he said.
Other important considerations include:
- Saltmarsh - There is an extensive region of saltmarsh habitat upstream of Victoria Bridge in the Mersey Estuary. Saltmarsh hosts a biodiverse community of plant, invertebrate and vertebrate species and contributes to the healthy functioning of estuaries.
- Giant kelp - Giant kelp occurs intermittently near the end of the break-wall at the mouth of the Mersey Estuary. It is a fast-growing seaweed that grows on rocky reefs in temperate waters off south east Australia. Giant Kelp forests increase local biodiversity by creating habitat for many marine species.
- Rocky reef - Shallow rocky reefs are a key coastal habitat in Tasmanian waters and support a diverse range of communities, including a number of commercially important species. Rocky reefs are extensive and patchy around the north coast of Tasmania including around Devonport port waters. Rocky reef habitat exists around the mouth of the Mersey River and into Bass Strait.
- Marine mammals - Marine mammals frequently observed within and around the port include fur seals, dolphins, and occasionally whales, including the Southern Right Whale and Humpback Whale.