ENVIRONMENTALISTS have reacted angrily to news that an artificial reef will this month be submerged at the southern end of Port Phillip near Point Nepean.
Port Phillip Conservation Council secretary Jenny Warfe wants installation of the reef delayed “so that scientific studies and other rationale can be made publicly available”.
Ms Warfe said her group – a “federation” of 14 conservation groups and their “many hundreds of individual members” – could “find no evidence” of an environmental effects study being made into the artificial reef plan.
She said the reef was planned to be placed near the sanctuary for the bay’s estimated 100 Burranan dolphins and a marine national park.
“Understandably, concerned citizens must be assured that these charismatic creatures will not be adversely affected by this poorly justified reef project,” Ms Warfe said in a letter sent to Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Fishing and Boating Minister Melissa Horne.
Ms Warfe said the environment groups had first heard about the imminent placement of the artificial concrete reef through an article in The News (“Artificial reef off Point Nepean” 21/2/22).
Futurefish Foundation director David Kramer, a consultant to the state government, said an identical reef at Shoalhaven, NSW had “proven to be outstanding in attracting yellowtail kingfish”.
He said the 16 concrete modules would “quickly obtain weed growth and provide a perfect reef in strong tidal waters”, forming the largest artificial reef in Victoria.
Mr Kramer last week told The News that the reef “is only weeks away” from arriving in Port Phillip from where was being built in Tasmania.
He said he would be filming the arrival and placement of the reef for a documentary commissioned by the state government.
Mr Kramer knew about letters sent to government by the greenies “who are up in arms”.
He said environmental studies “are all done, and a proper process followed”.
Nepean MP Chris Brayne said the artificial reef “was originally canvassed in 2019 with the hopes of seeing it happen in the winter of 2020” (“Reefs plan to improve bays fish stocks” The News 6/11/19).
“Obviously with COVID, this expected date did not progress and has now restarted in 2022,” he said.
“The area of the bay where it is to be located sees a high volume of anglers, so this will be an exciting development for many of them.”
Michelle Cheers, of Rye Community Group Alliance, said she could find no evidence of studies into “what, if any, impact the reefs may have on wave seabed dynamics and in turn the nearby bay beaches. It is a very volatile part of the bay”.
“In short, a lot of us are over this self-serving fishing lobby group that seems to be able to do what it wants with no regard to the impact on the bay marine system,” she said.
“Other bay stakeholders are simply ignored by the government. We have seen this disregard with jet skis and spider crab plundering.”
“Why does the Futurefish Foundation have the premier’s [Daniel Andrews] ear when the rest of us are lucky to get a response to a query from a bureaucrat in under three months?”
When asking the ministers to delay placing the reef, Ms Warfe predicted it would attract other bay users, such as divers, adventurous swimmers, and jet ski riders, giving rise to “inevitable territorial disputes”.