More pages in this section
Townsville dolphins healthy as monitoring assists with long-term conservation
Initial data from a monitoring project to help preserve two dolphin species has found almost 250 healthy individuals in stable populations near Townsville. Led by Flinders University in collaboration with Southern Cross University and Blue Planet Marine, the project is studying the ecology of the dolphins in the Townsville region in relation to construction activities associated with the Port of Townsville’s $193m Channel Upgrade Project. Project leader Flinders University Associate Professor Guido J Parra says a pre-construction ‘baseline’ survey was undertaken last year, providing important baseline data on the distribution, abundance and preferred habitats of snubfin and humpback dolphins under pre-construction conditions. ``Boat surveys in 2019 estimated the total number of snubfin dolphins using Cleveland Bay at 54 individuals and at 89 individuals for Halifax Bay. The total population size of humpback dolphins was estimated at 30 individuals for Cleveland Bay and at 71 individuals for Halifax Bay,’’ he said. ``Land based surveys of key areas where port construction activities will take place observed snubfin and humpback dolphins frequently throughout different times of the day engaged mainly in foraging and travelling behaviours.’’ Associate Professor Parra also found that the distribution and population estimates for snubfin and humpback dolphins was consistent with surveys undertaken 20 years-ago, indicating that populations have remained relatively stable over time. ``It also shows that the coastal waters off Cleveland Bay and Halifax Bay continue to support important populations of Australian snubfin and humpback dolphins”. ``Furthermore, the frequent use by both dolphin species of the coastal waters close to the Port is consistent with surveys undertaken between 1999 and 2002, suggesting that the Port-related activities are not deterring inshore dolphin activity. Further surveys during and post construction activities will allow us to assess if there is any significant impact on the dolphin’s population status’’ he said. ``Importantly, the baseline assessment indicated that present levels of maintenance dredging and vessel traffic do not seem to influence the patterns of attendance and behaviour of dolphins around the port area.’’ Port of Townsville General Manager Infrastructure and Environment Marissa Wise said the monitoring work, which would help to ensure the long-term conservation of the dolphins, was an important element of the Channel Upgrade Project. ``The Port is investing $17 million on environmental monitoring and management solely associated with the Channel Upgrade Project to ensure minimal impacts on the mega-fauna, corals, bird-life and seagrasses in Cleveland Bay and the surrounding area,’’ she said. ``We are extremely mindful of the delicate balance within the waters in which we operate, so it is heartening to hear from independent environmental scientists that our dolphin population is healthy and remains unaffected by Port-related activities.’’ Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the channel upgrade project was an important investment in Townsville’s future. “The environmental work being done between the Port of Townsville and Flinders University is vital to ensure this project is done sustainably,” he said. “The channel upgrade project will create much needed jobs during construction and allow more freight to come and leave the port which creates opportunities for many businesses.” Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke said by continuing to manage the health response we can now focus on delivering Queensland’s plan for economic recovery. “It’s activity like this that can help support Queensland’s plan for economic recovery as the world deals with the global coronavirus pandemic,” she said. Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said environmental modelling was a key part of ensuring the channel upgrade was successful. “This project needs to be done sustainability and this monitoring is a key part of this,” he said. “Investments like this into the Port of Townsville will help provide important jobs in a sustainable way.” Associate Professor Parra said: ``Our monitoring and research efforts will support adaptive management initiatives so that we can learn and improve the way that Australian snubfin and humpback dolphins are protected and managed using the best available evidence’’. ``It is clear that the coastal waters off Townsville support important populations of the Australian snubfin and humpback dolphins and careful research and long-term monitoring are vital for their conservation and management,’’ he said. The inshore dolphin research and monitoring program is being undertaken via a series of surveys across June and July each year over five years (2019-2023), and involves an integrated methodological approach using boat and land-based surveys. Three boats are used to survey for dolphins in coastal waters off Townsville and adjacent waters including Cleveland and Halifax Bays. The Channel Upgrade Project is the largest infrastructure project in the Townsville Port’s history. It will allow larger ships safe access to the Townsville Port, ensuring the Port remains competitive benefits North Queensland’s economy for decades. The Townsville Port Channel Upgrade is a joint project of the Queensland and Australian governments, and Port of Townsville Limited. The Channel Upgrade forms part of the Townsville City Deal signed in December 2016.
New terminal to take Townsville Port to new era
A new strategic cargo terminal has been officially opened at the recently upgraded Berth 4 Terminal at the Port of Townsville with the arrival of ‘Coronado Bay’. Today is the first time a container vessel has fully utilised the $10 million, 1.6 hectare upgraded facility which can accommodate an additional storage capacity of nearly 1,600 containers. Swire vessel, ‘Coronado Bay’ is unloading around 1,200 containers today, carrying various cargo from manufacturing goods to lifestyle products and furniture. The upgraded storage facility is part of the $30 million Berth 4 Crane and Cargo project that will feature a new ship-to-shore crane that is scheduled for delivery in late 2020. The crane is expected to be in operation by the second quarter of 2021, increasing the berth capacity by around 20 per cent. Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the new terminal at the port was already showing its importance. ” These upgrades at the Port of Townsville will help increase capacity and give customers more options, “ he said. ” The port not only employs many people, it also creates many indirect jobs and drives economic growth which we are focused on as we can start delivering Queensland’s plan for economic recovery.” Townsville Port Operations Manager Mark Jenkins said the purpose-built facility will service the Port’s growing trade requirements for decades to come. “The Port and local contractor Formset, jointly created a fit-for-purpose terminal that will further support the delivery of end-to-end logistics solution for our customers and community, he said. “The maritime freight industry is vital to the North Queensland economy, not only supporting economic growth and international transport links but also providing employment for the region. While the Port will soon release its annual financial figures, he said he was pleased that trade throughput had not suffered major impacts, despite coronavirus. “As North Queensland grows, so does the Port. We are proud to be a key provider of the economic stability of the region. The Port benefits every single person living in North Queensland from fuel in their cars, to the building they live and work in, to jobs including jackaroos, train and truck drivers, crane operators, tradespeople, scientists and more,” Mr Jenkins said.
Little Lucinda Jetty gets $1.2m upgrade
The Port of Townsville is spending $1.2 million to repair the Lucinda Jetty to extend the life of the popular fishing spot for the benefit of the local community. Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the contract had been awarded to Townsville engineering company Casa Projects and is expected to support 15 jobs over the next six months. “Investing in Queensland infrastructure means creating Queensland jobs as we unite and recover from COVID-19,” Mr Bailey said. “Corrosive damage was discovered near the top of a number of the 68 steel piles during a structural inspection last year. “Thanks to the strong response from Queenslanders to coronavirus, the Palaszczuk Government and its publicly-owned ports continue to deliver a record $23 billion roads and transport program for the state, which is supporting 13,500 jobs for regional Queensland.” Port of Townsville General Manager Infrastructure and Environment Marissa Wise said Lucinda is an important port as it boasts the longest service jetty in the South Hemisphere, stretching 5.6km, for the export of raw sugar from the Ingham District. “The so-called ‘little’ jetty, which is 210 metres long, was built 63 years-ago and has become a mecca for recreational fishers who travel vast distances to fish there,’’ she said. “The project provides a much-needed boost to the local economy which is important at this time.” Managing Director Casa Projects Peter Casa described winning the contract as ‘exceptional for us’. “This comes at a great time,’’ he said. “We are a Townsville-based company and we want work in the region because at the moment the economy requires a boost and this is a perfect remedy. “The other important element is that it is quite a technical job so it will help retain our company’s skill set.’’ Hinchinbrook Shire Council Mayor Ramon Jayo said he was ‘ecstatic’ about the project. “The little jetty is a significant attraction for visitors and tourists to Lucinda,’’ he said. “As part of our economic diversification program we are working hard to change our economy from a heavy reliance on sugar to other industries including tourism, and the little jetty forms a crucial part of our endeavours to establish Lucinda as a fishing and holiday destination of choice.” The works include the strengthening and corrosion protection of the steel piles along the wharf stem and the service wharf. This will be achieved by the installation of steel doubler plates (adding a 10mm layer of steel to the upper parts of piles) and wrapping of the steel piles. The construction is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year (depending on weather). During construction the jetty will need to be closed from for short durations (a few hours at a time) between July and November 2020. There will also be areas fenced off for the full duration of the works for the safety of the community and the workforce. The Port of Townsville, which operates the Townsville and Lucinda ports, conducts regular structural inspections of the fishing jetty to ensure the safety of the public.
Boxed meat exports buck trend
For the first time in over a decade, JBS Australia is shipping hundreds of tonnes of frozen beef directly from Townsville. Today’s shipment will be sent directly to Japan as part of a new strategy in developing their Northern workforce and capitalising on international demand. For the past 12 months, shipping giant ANL has been working with JBS developing and securing future meat exports from Townsville. The future is looking bright with the exporting of two refrigerated containers per shipment on average since May. Today’s shipment onboard ANL’s ‘Hansa Regensburg’ is the latest export. JBS Northern Chief Operating Officer (COO), Anthony Pratt has welcomed ANL’s reefer shipping options from the Townsville Port. “The JBS Townsville plant provides a valuable option for North Queensland cattle producers to supply grassfed cattle for processing in the region,’’ Mr Pratt said. “The plant processes roughly 145,000 cattle per year, supports 508 full-time equivalent jobs and contributes over $600 million to the local economy.’’ Mr. Pratt confirmed that the new freight service allows JBS to better serve the producers in the region and deliver products more directly and efficiently to our international customers. ANL General Manager Intra Oceania Trades, Chris Peck said he was thrilled to see the benefits of these collective efforts. “We share a long relationship with JBS and the Port of Townsville,’’ Mr Peck said. “ANL has a great partnership with the agricultural sector and sees Australian beef exports, specifically those into North East Asia as a key commodity with proud history and a strong future. “The team at JBS have a great sense of vision and we look forward to continuing our beneficial mutual relationship.’’ Townsville Port Chief Operating Officer, Drew Penny said the new venture is a strong sign that the infrastructure investments that the Port of Townsville has made to grow containerised cargo, including refrigerated cargo, is supporting the aims of North Queensland Exporters and international shipping lines. “Japan is a very important trading partner for our region, and we are thrilled to have JBS exporting directly out of Townsville,’’ Mr Penny said. “We are committed growing agriculture exports directly from Townsville to support our customers, farmers and industries in North Queensland, and we thank JBS for their confidence and support in our shipping lines and port facilities.’’
Port supports YWAM medical ship during COVID-19
When times are tough, North Queenslanders need to support each other. The Port of Townsville has today announced it will provide much needed in kind support to North Queensland’s YWAM medical ship. YWAM MS, a is a world-class medical ship, has been docked in Townsville since March and will be homed in the Townsville Marine Precinct until October 2020. The six-month in-kind berthage support will help prevent the not-for-profit organisation from suffering financial impacts due to the impacts of COVID-19 which have forced the vessel to remain in Australia an unplanned seven months. YWAM Port Captain, Jeremy Schierer said that the medical ship had planned to remain in Papua New Guinea for all of 2020. “When COVID-19 changed the world in mid-March and medical and training outreaches had to be suspended with international volunteers no longer able to travel to PNG, we brought the ship back to our home base Townsville,” he said. “Port of Townsville's provision of a wharf for the medical ship on a gift-in-kind basis is a massive help in this time of extended uncertainty and financial upheaval. “YWAM Medical Ships is using this time for repairs and maintenance and looks forward to redeploying to PNG as soon as possible.” Townsville Port’s General Manager Business Strategy and Sustainability, Claudia Brumme-Smith said that the decision to provide free berthage for the medical ship was essential in allowing to business to stay afloat during their suspended operations. “The Port recognises the critical healthcare and engagement work the YWAM medical ship provides to our neighbours, Papua New Guinea, which is also a very important trading partner for North Queensland’’ she said. “Providing care to around 40,000 patients each year is a costly exercise. We understand this and we want to provide as much support as possible during these difficult times.’’ The assistance for YWAM follows additional support offered to other port businesses and customers. The Port has waived increases on rental rates for all commercial tenancies (which were due for review from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020) and waved increases for shipping charges in the 2020-2021 financial year. “The Port recognises that COVID-19 has resulted in significant financial impacts and distress for some industries and we will do what we can to help our economic region,” Ms Brumme-Smith said.