The critically endangered Capricorn Yellow Chat.
Photo © Wildlife Queensland
WPSQ members are alarmed about a spate of new proposals for coal ports, stockpiles and railway lines planned within the sensitive intertidal zone of the mouth of the Fitzroy River, along with the proposed dredging and shipping traffic in Keppel Bay near sensitive marine zones.
The Delta of Central Queensland’s Fitzroy River along with the adjacent Keppel Bay reefs and islands, are increasingly under pressure of industrialisation. The area already has to contend with environmentally damaging side effects such as changed water quality, from major coal development in the Fitzroy catchment and the heavy industrialisation of Gladstone and Curtis Island immediately to the south. New threats are looming for the biodiversity of the area.
To see more information and keep up with current community actions about the new big industry proposals go to the Keppel and Fitzroy Delta Alliance website.
Wildlife in the area will need your help and there are some special species which are particularly vulnerable. Talk to people about it, write to some politicians and the media and take part in the public consultation process, to have a say.
Snubfin Dolphin(Orcealla heinsohni)
The footprint of the coal port proposals includes the home of about 70 snubfin dolphins. The mouth of the Fitzroy near Balaclava Island is a known hot spot for snubfin dolphins, separated from the northern Australian populations. The dolphins reproduce slowly and recent research suggests that the loss of just one individual per year on top of the natural mortality rate could be enough to trigger irreversible declines in local populations. Coastal development, pollution, boat strikes and net entanglement are the main threats to snubfin dolphins. Xstrata is a company already in the EIS phase of the development application process for a coal port on Balaclava Island, make sure you speak up for the snubfin and other wildlife during the process.
Capricorn Yellow Chat (Epthianura crocea ssp. macgregori) and wetland birds
The extensive marine plains and mudflats of the Fitzroy Delta are listed as an Important Bird Area by Australian and international bird conservation groups as they provide a rich feeding ground for migratory waders, wetland birds and the critically endangered Capricorn Yellow Chat.
The Capricorn yellow chat is a small sedentary insectivorous bird whose habitat is on the marine plain wetlands in the Fitzroy Delta and on Curtis Island, some of which occurs within the footprint of the two proposed rail lines and coal stockpile developments near Raglan Creek. Changes in water quality and the hydrology of fresh/salt interface are threats to the yellow chat. Constant road and rail traffic along corridors dissecting their habitat may pose physical threats.
Flatback turtle and marine creatures
Peak Island is one of the very few places designated as 'pink zone' in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which means it has the highest level of protection, no human activity except low impact research is permitted there. It is an important breeding sight for Flatback turtles and has other significant marine values. WPSQ would like to know how will it be protected with huge international ships lining up next to it and barges loading coal upwind? Two develpment proposals have coal ship holding and coal barge loading areas in between Peak Island and Curtis Island National Parks.
Important fish breeding area
The Fitzroy Delta is a recognised important fish breeding area, especially for the Barramundi. Like the marine plain birds, there are many fish species which depend on inundation of extensive pools in the saltmarsh by freshwater, plus high tides which stimulate growth of food chains upon which they depend. Many of the fish species present in the coral sea and on the barrier reef live some part of their lifecycle in the large river deltas such as the Fitzroy. The water quality and hydrology is threatened by dredging, coal stockpiles, embankments for rail lines. The area has acid sulphate soils.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland's activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us an email.