Yumbah Aquaculture concerned about impact of Smith Bay port

Yumbah Aquaculture is concerned about the potential negative impact on its abalone farm when and if Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers gets approval to build its timber exporting port at Smith Bay.

The Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed project is currently out for public comment with submissions due by May 28.

State planning authority DPTI will host information sessions in Kingscote on May 1 and Parndana on May 2.

Yumbah director Anthony Hall questioned how KIPT could be 100 per cent certain of having no negative effect when dredging and constructing within a few hundred metres of the farm's intake pipes.

"When announcing its Environmental Impact Statement for a Smith Bay 'seaport', Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers has stated, 'The construction and operation of the facility, with appropriate management measures, would have no negative effects on the land-based abalone farm...'."

Mr Hall alleges that the company's contractors damaged the seafloor while conducting geotechnical studies in 2017.

"We remember well how, in October 2017, KIPT's 'appropriate management measures' controlling their seabed drilling led to the destruction of seagrass and habitat in Smith Bay," he said.

"And now the community of Kangaroo Island is expected to trust them with the construction of a seaport.

"Last month, Member of the SA Upper House Mark Parnell MLC put it well when he warned people not to take the EIS as an objective or scientific document.

"Environmental Impact Statements are prepared by the proponent. Their job is to convince the decision-makers that any problems can be satisfactorily overcome. It is not independent and it is not impartial.

"Our team of experts is working diligently to uncover the inconsistencies and mistakes in the arguments developed by KIPT over the past four years, with less than six weeks left before the public consultation process ends.

"And so far, Yumbah is struggling to find any robust or credible evidence in the EIS to sustain KIPT's claims beyond reasonable doubt. The EIS conclusions just don't not pass the pub test.

"No one can honestly believe that mining 200,000 cubic metres of Smith Bay seabed will create environmental issues that are merely 'minimal and manageable'.

"How long will it be for one of our politicians is brave enough, like the boy pointing out that the king was wearing no clothes, to say that you cannot build a seaport in Smith Bay with 'no or minimal' impact."

Meanwhile, marine research company Australian Ocean Lab (AusOcean) has just released its 37-page Smith Bay Marine Ecology Report, which can be read on the AusOcean website here.

AusOcean was now in the process of reviewing KIPT's EIS and it would be making submission to DPTI, company founder Alan Noble said.

KIPT response

Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers community engagement director Shauna Black said the Environmental Impact Statement addressed the water quality issue in great detail.

And water quality had been the subject of studies for more than two years, which included monitoring the tide, current, turbidity and water quality in Smith Bay with buoys, as well as geotechnical testing to discover the composition of the seabed, she said.

A specific Dredging Management Plan would be implemented and this was detailed in the EIS at Chapter 9.5 on page 166, she said.

"It outlines how dredging will be avoided in certain conditions, places limits on the amount to be dredged per day, takes into account seasonal factors, includes real-time monitoring and reactive management actions," Ms Black said.

"Notwithstanding all this, there are five other things to be considered: the abalone ecotoxicology testing done by an independent and nationally accredited laboratory in WA shows the abalone were not affected by sediments in the water at more than 10 times the limit KIPT has imposed for water quality; this replicates published international studies.

"Yumbah's own data from its Portland operations support this finding; the water intakes for Yumbah are between 500m and 1km from the site of dredging; and, the seabed is comprised mostly of coarse sand and cobbles, which are relatively heavy and therefore suspended for only a short distance.

"There is no threat to Yumbah and the two businesses can coexist."

Regarding questions about how 200,000 cubic metres of Smith Bay seabed would be removed and where his material would be placed, Ms Black had this to say.

"The EIS estimates 100,000 cubic metres will be cutter-suction dredged, but also models for an upper limit of 200,000," she said.

"This material will be pumped to land on KIPT's 12ha site, which will be terraced.

"The material will be de-watered, the water will go to retention basins, then the coarse dry material will be re-used as fill for the causeway part of the jetty."

She said issue was detailed in Chapter 4.5.2 - Project Description on page 74 in the EIS.

"Any remaining material will be used on land to build the site landscape," she said.