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Gippsland Lakes

The Lakes are Getting Saltier.

Roughly the invasive species identified so far have been: Green European Shore Crab; Stingray; Draughtboard Shark; Leopard Shark; Gummy Shark; Hammerhead Shark; Thresher Shark; Squid and a wide range of marine fish

One large source of Mercury into the Gippsland Lakes was the Maryvale Pulp Mill - Gold mining and coal mines have been other large sources.

July 16 2015: A New Dredge Guaranteed For Gippsland Lakes (Adding more fuel to the fire?)

April 28 2015: State Environment Minister Warns Pregnant Women advises women to check with Doctors before eating Gippsland Lakes Fish

Minister Lisa Neville said pregnant women concerned about mercury levels should consult their doctors and make the best decisions for their families. "There's new information that has come forward through the doctors in Gippsland and I think we need to take that seriously, that's why a study is being undertaken and ensure the community have all the information they need," she said. "Most people are advised to have two or three pieces of fish, if you are pregnant, it is always advisable to have much less than that anyway, but certainly in this case I'd be suggesting that pregnant women take all precautions, see their doctor and make that decision that's in their best interest and their families' best interest."

April 19 2015: Fish Caught in Gippsland Lakes Could Have High Mercury

The three doctors conducted their own tests on black bream caught in the lakes, and supplied ABC News with the laboratory analysis. The analysis showed all 10 samples had mercury levels higher than the maximum safe level recommended by the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code. In one sample, the mercury level was more than four times the maximum safe level. Despite the doctors' urging, Victoria's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) last tested for mercury in the sediment of the lakes in 2004, and the fish had not been tested since 1997.

2015 February: McLennan Straits - massive vegetation kill. Some salt tolerant plants are reestablishing.. The kill is a shocking demonstration of what we have been on about since soon after the deepening of the entrance in 2008 that resulted in a greatly increased tidal prism.( amount of marine water entering)

McLennan Straits connects Lake Wellington with Lake Victoria. It is approximately 50km south west of Lakes Entrance.

Shoreline Erosion occurring after deepening of the entrace of the Lakes in March 2008 - Banksia Peninsula, Gippsland Lakes

Shoreline Erosion occurring after deepening of the entrace of the Lakes in March 2008 - Banksia Peninsula, Gippsland Lakes

November 28 2014: Salinity Levels Continue to Cause Concern for Gippsland Lakes (The Age)

Rising salinity levels in the world-renowned Gippsland Lakes is putting the wetlands at risk, with a recent government report acknowledging it did not know the long-term risks of the problem.

Salinity levels have risen dramatically in recent years, threatening the ecosystem. The shoreline has been eroded and vegetation and fish species are dying.

In an effort to combat the problem, the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee has suggested replacing freshwater vegetation with salt-resistant plants. However, former government bureaucrat and environmental activist Ross Scott said a salinity barrier was needed to help stop levels from increasing. He suggested more regular monitoring to ensure authorities knew the scope of the problem.

"The saltwater wedge has now progressed up the lake chain as far as the Port of Sale, and the high salinity in the Latrobe River threatens the adjoining Dowd and Heart Morass," he said.

The community had spent $2.5 million recently to buy low-lying farmland to protect and expand the Heart Morass, only to have it at risk now from salt, he said.

The Environment Protection Authority tests salinity levels at five spots in the lake monthly. The Gippsland Lakes cover 600 square kilometres in Victoria's south-east and support the local economy through fishing, tourism and recreation.

The recent Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee's environment strategy said it the long-term impact on the ecosystem of increasing salinity was still not known. It recommended an assessment of whether installing salinity barriers would increase understanding of the problem.

Managing director Martin Richardson said the lakes were made up of various ecological values, some of which were naturally marine. Monitoring was undertaken. "Variability in salinity in the Gippsland Lakes is now almost solely the result of variability in freshwater inflows from the main rivers and periods of low river discharge are strongly correlated with periods of high lakes salinity, and vice versa," he said.

"There's no suggestion there is above acceptable level and it's not causing a major problem. But there are subtle changes."

The wetlands are listed under the Ramsar Convention because of their importance to many endangered and threatened waterbird species. They are also listed in the Japan Australia Migratory Bird Agreement and China Australia Migratory Bird Agreement.

Salinity levels have rapidly increased since dredging in 2008, which almost doubled the port depth to 5.5 metres. A lack of freshwater inflows, evaporation and the permanent entrance to the ocean via Lakes Entrance have all contributed to the problem.

The latest Natural Assets Report Card graded the lake's health as "moderate" - 62 per cent of the water meets guidelines, but fish were considered "poor" because the numbers have plummeted since the 1990s.

November 24 2014: Calls for Lakes Mercury Tests

Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull, however, disagrees. He said on the advice of experts, neither the mercury levels in sediment or mercury levels in fish were of concern. "On the first point, I note the comments of the acting chief medical officer, Dr Michael Ackland, who has denied mercury levels in the Gippsland Lakes are any sort of human risk," Mr Bull said.

November 11 2014: Victoria to Test for Mercury in Gippsland Lakes

August 19 2014: Are the Gippsland Lakes Too Salty?

August 14 2014: MEDIA RELEASE The Gippsland Lakes – a health reality check is needed now

Will our Gippsland Lakes survive? Will their outstanding beauty disappear forever, or can we act now to prevent an environment disaster?

These are questions asked by Gippsland 2020 - A Vision for a 21stCentury Gippsland initiative.

We should all be concerned by the recent ‘Snapshot of the Health of the Gippsland Lakes’ document contained in the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee’s (GLMAC) annual report. It provides disturbing evidence of declining water quality, high nutrient inflows, continued seasonal algal blooms (including the dangerous blue-green algae), loss of sea grass, declining fish stocks and a decrease in the abundance and diversity of bird life. The alarming report, however, fails to highlight many other significant and immediate threats affecting the health of the Gippsland Lakes.

‘What GLMAC tell us in the media versus their reports and the true health of the Lakes are two different things’, according to the former General Manager of Lake Wellington Rivers Authority, engineer and long-time Gippsland Lakes resident, Mr Ross Scott. ‘If you compare the health of our Lakes from a 1960 baseline with the Lakes now, there is no comparison’ he revealed. ‘We have seriously polluted our Lakes with industrial waste from coal mines, gas operations and we have sold off the farm by diverting fresh, surface water inflows to Melbourne and away from the Lakes since the 1980's. We have effectively traded our Gippsland Lake's important fresh water supplies- their lifeblood- for unsustainable residential development around Melbourne’.

These serious environmental issues have been compounded since 2008 by the increased volume of sea water flowing into the Lakes. The ever-deeper dredging of the harbour entrance has allowed salt water to infiltrate the fresh-water Lakes, further disrupting the delicate ecosystem balance according to EPA, CSIRO and Australian government reports.

Since the economy of East Gippsland relies upon a healthy Gippsland Lakes ecosystem for its ongoing sustainability and survival, Gippsland 2020 is calling for an immediate commitment by the Victorian Coalition Government to implement a robust and unbiased audit of the ecological function of the Gippsland Lakes. Such an independent audit was last carried out by the CSIRO in 1998.

Gippsland 2020 believes that Gippslanders have waited too long for an independent and scientifically rigorous investigation of the Gippsland Lakes.

Gippsland 2020 therefore encourages the Victorian Coalition Government to commit to an independent Audit of the Ecological Function of the Gippsland Lakes, and to act on eliminating the major threats to the Lakes before the next Victorian State Election, scheduled for 29 November 2014.

The East Gippsland economy is dependent upon the long-term sustainability of the once proud Gippsland Lakes ecosystem. An ecological audit must be completed and corrective action taken before our Lakes are irreversibly damaged.

A Gippsland Lakes reality heath check is dangerously overdue. We must act now to prevent an environmental disaster.


http://www.gippslandlakes.net.au/about-us/our-focus/glmac_annual_report_web/ http://www.gcb.vic.gov.au/publications/csiro/CSIRO1998.pdf



Table 5.1: http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/0c0185c8-8e0b-4194-a6ca-d0f795bef410/files/21-ecd-ch-4-5.pdf


August 22 2013: Gippsland Lakes Too Precious To Lose (short video)

In 2008 Gippsland Ports obtained a permit to deepen the entrance from the sea into the Gippsland Lakes to a depth of 3.5 metres, but they were permitted to over dredge to 5.5 metres to allow for infill between dredging cycles. In 2011 a permit was issued to Ports that allowed them to dredge deeper to 4.5 metres as a target depth. Currently Ports through extensive dredging is maintaining the entrance at 6 to 7 metres, double the depth that the previous dredger April Hamer could attain and double the entrance cross-sectional area.

In 1980 Geoff King of the Department of Minerals and Energy wrote on salt water intrusion through the entrance. He described a maintained entrance to the sea as a salt pump. Salt ocean water in and fresh lake’s water out per tidal change.

Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee has describe the claim that ‘the deepened entrance has resulted in increased salinity in the lakes’ as a “MYTH”.

The 2013 EPA report into the Gippsland Lakes stated, “The Gippsland Lakes are characterised by a strong east to west salinity gradient corresponding to the increasing influence of ocean waters. Salinity levels are driven by proximity to the entrance and is produced by the saltwater input at the entrance”. Further, “The lakes have been modified and the entrance has been dredged even deeper, and this has had a profound modification. Increased salinity stimulates the release of dissolved nutrients from the lake’s system.” and, “The high levels of surface water salinity threatens the surrounding freshwater swamps and wetlands”. The EPA report explains that the eastern lakes are generally salt stratified with low dissolved oxygen; and that this condition is conducive to the release of nutrients from the lake’s sediment. The released nutrients are then available to feed algal blooms.

May 2013: Gippsland Lakes Condition Report 1990-2011 (EPA Victoria)

October 3 2012: Power Needs Muddy The Water For Farmers

July 16 2012: Yallourn Coal Mine Flood Worsens

Photo: ABC

October 3 2012: Image Courtesy of Nearmap. Water had been sitting in Lake Yallourn for over 4 months.

Yallourn coal hole or is that Lake Yallourn July 2012: All of this water will eventually evaporate or get pumped out into the Latrobe River and end up in the Gippsland Lakes, where it will do what?

Interesting article on source of mercury contaminating Gippsland Lakes (here)

30% of 50 remaining unique Gippsland Lakes dolphins have died since November 2006, some heavily covered with fist-sized fungal skin lesions that had penetrated deep into the dolphins’ blubber layer.

July 13 2012: Fears Of River Contamination (ABC Stateline)

Distance of Yallourn to western edge of Gippsland Lakes ~75km

Breach of Morwell Diversion occurred at approximate location of top yellow dot in map, with water entering mine from north east direction. Water also flooded into the eastern coal hole caused by a build up of flood water backing up along the Morwell River. This has created an impressive water fall. (image below - The Age).

June 26 2012: Vic EPA, Govt Urged To Stop TRU Energy Water Pollution

April 24 2012: Salinity Threatens World Renown Gippsland Lakes (ABC Lateline)

December 27 2011: Gippsland Lakes Algae Outbreak Leaves Fishermen Treading Water

December 23 2011: Fishing, Tourism's Glimmer of Hope

December 21 2011: Seafood Inedible

December 20 2011: Victorian Government Sacrificing Gippsland Lakes

December 19 2011: Fishers Fear Algae Ban Impact

December 18 2011: Fish Labelled Toxic

December 16 2011: Algal Bloom Sparks Gippsland Lakes Fish Ban

December 16 2011: Ban On Gippsland Lakes Fish

December 15 2011: Tourism Talks Focus On Blue Green Algae

December 7 2011: Algal Bloom Could Last Months

December 1 2011: Blue Green Algae Warning For Gippsland Lakes

August 20 2010: Questions Over Dredging Legality

August 4 2010: Gippsland Lakes Fishermen - To Hang Up Their Nets?

June 30 2010: Crab Plague On March In Gippsland Lakes.

Red swimmer crab, (Nectocarcinus integrifrons) very common in SA; Lives in seagrass beds. Also See information here about European Shore Crab (another recent import).

July 26 2010: More invaders into the lakes. Fishermen caught more of them last night near Metung. A Leopard shark was also caught by him in this area, but in one of the channels closer to the coast. As he has been fishing the lakes all of his life and has never seen these crabs before, I suppose the question now is when did they arrive and how the hell did they get here.

"The Marine Board of Victoria recently relaxed a long standing ban on commercial passenger vessels using the entrance, but these boats - mostly fishing charters - can still be put at risk if weather conditions change unexpectedly whilst they are at sea. The same applies to privately-owned recreational fishing boats and yachts, which are based in or launched in the Lakes and utilise the entrance when conditions are appropriate. Upgrading the entrance would increase the appeal of Lakes Entrance as an ocean access point for a wide range of vessels, including cruising yachts which currently may be deterred from attempting to cross the bar. There may be potential for a fast ferry service to Tasmania, servicing Canberra and the Sydney-Melbourne coastal drive.

With the recent clsoure of the Esso base on Bullock Island, servicing of offshore oil and gas fields is carried out from ports in Corner Inlet, mainly Barry's Beach. As the fields to the east, such as Patricia, Baleen and Kipper, are progressively developed, there is an opportunity for Lakes Entrance - with its substantial advantage in steaming time - to become the base for construction and subsequent maintenance. (It is, however, acknowledged that these fields are unlikely to involve production platforms that require regular supply and servicing. The port would also be capable of use for shipping general cargo, such as timber and timber products." East Gippsland Taskforce Major Projects Status Report. Lakes Entrance Port Redevelopment. June 2001.

The mouth at Lakes Entrance, constant dredging is allowing vast quantities of sea water into the Lakes System

Some interesting quotes from a long buried report

Royal Society of Victoria Proceedings Vol 91 & 92 9 March 1981


"The opening of the artificial entrance in June 1889 made a permanent connection with the sea and subjected the Lakes to greater tidal influence. The most immediate effect must have been an increase in salinity followed by major ecological changes...The flood flow however entered the system as a dense saline wedge creating bottom currents well into the Lakes system...The intrusion of the sea into the Lakes began with an unexpected breakthrough by storm waves in June 1889. This completed the artificial cut in the barrier that had begun nearly 20 years prior. Tidal currents quickly scoured the entrance to a navigable depth and Reeves Channel became a tidal channel through which ebb and flood currents moved in response to the tidal level at the entrance. The 12km meandering passage into the main body of the Lakes was a significant constriction to the tidal flow and tidal levels in Lake King were greatly diminished relative to the entrance....In terms of the salinity pattern, the Lakes can be classified as a mixed estuary (Drake 1976) i.e. a nett landward flow of saline water and a seaward flow of less saline lake water. The degree of saline intrusion is determined by the fresh water head relative to the tidal strength. In periods of exceptionally high river discharge there is no intrusion of sea water. Conversely, during periods of low river flow when evaporation exceeds fresh water inflow, there is a large nett inflow of saline water. During flood tide the saline wedge moves along the bottom at a velocity ranging from an average of 50cm/sec in Reeves Channel to 10-15 cm/sec in Lake King...Therefore it is clear that the scour is caused by the movement of saline bottom water into the lake...

Salinity in the Lakes was the subject of a Parliamentary Public Works Committee inquiry in 1952; it concluded that there had not been an appreciable increase in salinity of the Lakes as a result of the artificial opening. Bird (1978) however provides evidence based primarily on Phragmites die back, to support a hypothesis of salinity increase since 1889, and the results of this investigation add substantially more weight to the conclusion of salinity increase. The scour channel that has developed in Reeves Channel now provides a significantly deeper passage for the exchange of water between the main body of the Lakes and Bass Strait. This has increased saltwater intrusion into the Lakes system by reducing the mean velocity of the lake water outflow but also a smaller proportion of the water column is affected by the outflow during ebb tide (Hinwood 1964)...Thus saline water is pumped into the Lakes and only exported after vertical mixing with lake water.



Is this the main reason why the Lakes are suffering from Saltwater Intrusion? For these large tugs to keep working with the Bass Strait Oil & Gas Industry?

March 26 2010: Alarm Over Crab Numbers in Gippsland Lakes (Stateline)

February 14 2010: Authorities Silent on Crab Menace

European Shore Crab/Green Shore Crab

Hundreds of Thousands of European Shore crabs reported to be in the Gippsland Lakes. Native to the Atlantic Coast of Europe and Northern Africa. Regarded in NSW as a Class 1 noxious fish and movement of crab is strictly regulated. For some reason no similar restrictions in Victoria. The crab can breed up to 3 times a year and females can carry up to 200,000 eggs. The Crabs are voracious scavengers and can play havoc on native bivalve populations. "Overseas this crab is regarded as one of the world's worst marine invaders and has been dubbed the 'cockroach of the sea'" and will kill seahorses, mussels, barnacles, oysters and bivalves.

September 10 2009: Canberra Sticks Its Nose In Over Threatened Fish

September 9 2009: Water Plan a Threat to River

May 26 2009: Kill Concerns Lingering

May 21 2009: Simazine Pollution Detected in Latrobe River May Be Highest Level Recorded on Mainland Australia

May 5 2009: Shell Shock

March 29 2009: Authority Fabricated Water Data

March 9 2009: Too late for Gippsland Lakes

Dec 7 2008: Gippsland Lakes Caretaker Comes Clean Over Wetlands' Murky Health

Sep 21 2008: Gippsland Lakes Are Changing Yes - But Far From Dying

Aug 24 2008: Crunch Time for the Gippsland Lakes

July 2008: Evaluating and controlling pharmaceutical emissions from dairy farms: a critical first step in developing a preventative management approach

June 5 2008: Mercury Poisoning Linked to Dolphin Deaths

Interesting article on source of mercury contaminating Gippsland Lakes (here)

30% of 50 remaining dolphins have died in Victoria’s Gippsland Lakes since November 2006, some heavily covered with fist-sized fungal skin lesions that had penetrated deep into the dolphins’ blubber layer.

December 2008: Foul smelling pink bloom

November 2008. Rainbox coloured algal blooms.

July 3, 2008: mussel shells 300mm deep by 3 meters wide; 4 species of shell at least.