Opposition to NSW sand mining
COFFS HARBOUR, NSW — The Surfrider Foundation, a north coast conservation group, is campaigning against the threat of sand mining in the Solitary Islands Marine Reserve and other environmentally sensitive parts of the coast. The group has been told of a push by the state minerals and energy department to extend sand mining exploration licences along the coast.
Sand mining exploration has already caused extensive damage to the seabed, says the foundation. The Cable Sands Holdings company has admitted to dumping heavy equipment on the seabed. Four large anchors, too big to move, remain stuck in the sand. Other unnatural underwater objects include an enormous drill bit and 200 metres of heavy chain.
Surfrider spokesperson Andrew Fletcher says the equipment has "now caused much damage to fishermen's nets, equipment and the marine environment".
"If this is the kind of damage caused in the exploratory stages, what would happen if a full mining licence was granted?", he asks. He said the risk to the Solitary Islands Marine Reserve is "incredibly high" and that the entire north coast should be the subject of an environmental impact statement before licences are granted.
The Surfrider Foundation says the north coast of NSW contains significant habitat for commercial prawn stocks and commercial and recreational crab and fish stocks of both inshore and reef varieties. The Solitary Islands Marine Reserve contains nine species of coral unique to the area. Contact the Surfriders on (066) 561 964.