This Earth Day 22 April, Bribie Island is crying out for an Environmental Protection Agency, and you can help.
Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association (BIEPA) is this weekend joining with Queensland’s peak conservation advocates to label today’s Earth Day as “EPA Day”. The theme of Earth Day 2023 is “invest in our planet”, and BIEPA believes the best investment to protect our planet’s life-giving assets is through strongly enforced environmental laws – something that can only be achieved in Queensland through the establishment of an independent Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
“Those of us lucky enough to live on Bribie Island would agree that the natural places and wildlife we get to live amongst are second-to-none,” BIEPA President Richard Ogden said.
While the population of the iconic humpback whales have recovered well in recent decades, populations of their cousins the Australian humpback dolphin –listed as Vulnnerable and found around Bribie– are on the decline. An independent EPA could address the threats they face, which range from coastal developments approved contrary to existing laws, to human disturbances such as illegal approach by jet skiers.
“Our eastern beach is a rookery for critically endangered loggerhead turtles, our surrounding waters home to vulnerable dolphins and dugongs, and our shoreline supports endangered resident and migratory shorebirds – our National Park includes examples of unique wetland habitats found nowhere else in Queensland.”
Critically Endangered Far Eastern curlews rely on Bribie's shoreline for survival. Laws put in place to protect them need to be enforced through an independent Environmental Protection Agency.
Local conservationists are calling on the government to release long awaited plans for an Independent EPA to help address the enforcement of laws designed to protect individual species and slow the loss of biodiversity. This long-delayed decision is reaching a crucial time if it is to become legislated in this term of government.
Mr Ogden says “it’s unacceptable that the government has been delaying the introduction of this for so long, while species continue to decline. There will be no earth left without protection. ”
Bribie Island and its surrounds are being short-changed by Queensland continuing to be the only state without an environmental protection agency (EPA), according to BIEPA.
“This short-sighted approach by consecutive State Governments has left us without the basic environmental protections that every other state in Australia takes for granted, and has relied on for years.”
Not having an EPA means there’s no tough 'cop on the beat' to stop those who break the rules, and exploit the system.
Bribie’s remaining nature could have benefited from review by an EPA during the satellite hospital development, as precious wetland habitat was destroyed when other sites were clearly suitable and available.
“Even our most-protected area, the Bribie Island National Park, is under siege. On weekends up to 1,000 vehicles a day are accessing the beach, and there seems to be no plan from authorities to manage this excess, or to even consider the effect it’s having not only on the beach ecology, but also on threatened species that are due protection under State, National and International Laws and Treaties.”
Uncapped 4WD permit numbers on Bribie Island National Park beaches is one example of poor management of our National Parks, something an independent EPA would have a remit to address.
“In 10 years, Queensland will be put on the world stage like never before and we need to think about how we want to be seen - a place that protects its wildlife and natural places, or a place that exploits them,” said Mr Ogden.
“Unfortunately, at the moment we’re on track to leave our kids and grandkids far less of our state’s natural places and unique wildlife to experience and enjoy, and that’s a sad legacy to pass on.”
You can help
Use our template to write a letter calling for an EPA to our local MP Ali King, Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (contact details in the other news article).
Action to manage Bribie's critically endangered nesting loggerhead turtles has been left to a small group of dedicated but unresourced volunteers. An independent EPA could fight for compliance with existing laws put in place to protect them.