Loads of Business or Loads of Conservation – What Do You Think?

Recent campaigns to close or limit the access of 4WD Vehicles to Ocean Beach on Bribie Island are concerning businesses that rely on day trippers for their livelihood. Of course, the government’s job is to balance the needs and wants of its people based on the facts and what’s best for the community.

When both sides completely disagree over these issues the government’s job gets harder, so what is fact and what is emotion surrounding this issue? Let’s take a look.

The Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association (BIEPA) is of the view that 4WD Vehicles are jeopardising the breeding of Marine Turtles and is having a significant impact on turtle populations.

According to their website (biepa.org), “BIEPA continues to lobby State Government to stop the unsustainable, destructive impacts of 4WD and jet ski recreational activities on Bribie Island’s fragile natural environment, biodiversity, residential communities and passive recreational activities.

BIEPA, together with many in the Bribie Island community, is calling for the Government to significantly limit the numbers of 4WD permits issued, and to address the disturbance created by jet skis, in order to achieve environmental and legislative compliance on Bribie’s internationally protected beaches and in the surrounding waters of Pumicestone Passage and Moreton Bay.”

According to the Department of Environment and Science’s website (des.qld.gov.au), “Marine turtles nest on many beaches along the south Queensland coast on most nights from December to February.

Turtles are common on many of the coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and in some sheltered parts of the Queensland coast including Bowling Green Bay south of Townsville, Shoalwater and Corio Bays in central Queensland, Sandy Strait and in east Moreton Bay.

The Capricorn/Bunker Groups of islands on the Great Barrier Reef are one of the world's major breeding areas for green and loggerhead turtles.

North West, Hoskyn and Wreck Islands are the most important green turtle nesting areas, while Wreck, Erskine and Masthead are the most important loggerhead turtle rookeries.

Nearby Bundaberg coast also supports the Pacific region's largest breeding population of loggerhead turtles.

Resorts on Heron Island and Lady Elliot Island and the Heron Island Research Station allow visitors to stay overnight and go turtle watching.

Near Bundaberg on Queensland's central coast, Mon Repos supports the largest concentration of nesting sea turtles on the east Australian mainland. Nesting turtles at Mon Repos include the loggerhead, flatback, and green. At the peak of a prime nesting season, 20 or more turtles a night (mostly loggerheads) come ashore to nest on this 1.5km long sandy beach.

A good place to see these nesting turtles and emerging hatchlings is Mon Repos Conservation Regional Park or through visiting the Mon Repos Turtle Centre.”

So there are a number of key areas for these turtles, including Bribie Island as it is part of the east Moreton Bay area along with Moreton Island itself.

Queensland has 13,300 kms of coastline in total and the Bribie Island 4WD access on Ocean Beach is approximately 25 kms long representing 0.18% of the total coastline.

Businesses on the island that rely on 4WD day trippers and campers include petrol stations, food stores, cafes, bakeries, hotels and motoring and hardware suppliers, to name a few. One new business that is risking everything on the continuation of the current arrangements is the new car wash being built on First Avenue near the cinema.

Industry sources have advised that the investment in this business exceeds $1M providing employment in construction and ongoing operations for our people. Imagine if the cars simply stopped, bankruptcy must surely follow for this business and perhaps others as they struggle to survive post-COVID 19. Businesses already recently shut on the island include restaurants, butchers and cafes.

So where does this leave us? What is a fair solution? Shouldn’t we as locals have a say? Please write to the Editor with your thoughts.

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