Fisherman’s Wharf proposal carries sting in its tail for local marine life
A proposed major redevelopment of Queenscliff's historic Fisherman's Wharf includes a planned stingray feeding show with a giant video screen, seating for 120 people and 75 car spaces.
The regular and persistent feeding of the stingrays, with up to 600 shows a year, could lead to changes in their feeding behaviour as they become dependent on the feed, possibly malnourished and stressed.
The feeding may also attract other fish to the area away from their natural habitats, increase nutrients and the likelihood of algal blooms, alter food chains and make the rays more vulnerable to predators and fishing as they become tamer.
The ray being targeted by Queenscliff Harbour Pty Ltd is the Smooth Stingray, Dasyatis brevicaudata, which can grow up to 4.3 metres long and two metres across the wings, and weigh up to 350 kilograms.
The redevelopment would also sweep aside the site's cultural heritage values, including historic remnants of the local fishing community, even though they are currently within a heritage overlay in the local planning scheme.
The previous Coalition Government was a strong supporter of the stingray show. Then environment minister Ryan Smith committed $1 million to the wharf's rebuild in 2013.
But current environment minister and local Labor MP, Lisa Neville, is not so sure, and was quoted in The Age newspaper on 3 January 2016 saying locals "feel like they have been taken by surprise. Much greater community consultation is required before any sort of proposal is supported".
The proposal is now under consideration by the Queenscliffe Borough Council after Queenscliff Harbour submitted an application for a planning permit to redevelop the wharf.
The company's application included assessments of cultural heritage, noise, traffic and emissions, but not one word on the stingrays or the impact the proposal could have on them or the natural values of the area.
A far broader and better informed community consultation process is required.
The Victorian National Parks Association supports those locals who have serious concerns about the proposal.
- VNPA Activing Executive Director, Chris Smyth