The Gold Coast is lucky to have a concrete warrior like local mayor Tom Tate standing on the fence at night to keep the people safe from living things and native creatures – at least that’s what some may be led to believe after his recent remarks regarding a fish that has taken up residence in the tidal lake behind his council chambers.
By Jake Dunn
The fish-fighting leader is pressing onwards with his apparent war against nature and, according to a report in the Gold Coast Bulletin, he is vowing to “kill him dead” regarding a stonefish that has been reportedly hanging out in Evandale Lake at Bundall.
The alternative solution of relocating the fish – a native species minding its own business and doing exactly what it is expected to do – is not enough for Lord Tate and his take-no-prisoners mantra, so he’s reportedly going to smite his aquatic nemesis with furious anger and kill it dead.
“We will leave no stone unturned … we will kill him dead” – Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate to rogue stonefish
The mayor’s demonstrated mentality has been likened by some pundits to that of a person who would kill sharks for being in the ocean or shoot dead a lion because it strolled on the savannah behind his village.
A crack team of Seaworld divers were called in and were intent on relocating the potentially hazardous fish, as opposed to slaughtering it, which for the average person would seem the obvious solution.
“I heard all the trees on the Gold Coast are next on his hit list, Apparently they have to get rid of them because there is a chance they might fall on you.” – Mark, Gold Coast Bulletin commenter.
Estuarine stonefish are a dangerous fish to humans, and can inflict serious and painful injury to anyone who has the misfortune of stepping on one.
There has only been one reported fatality from a stonefish sting in Australia which occurred in April 1915 when a Dr. J. L. Wasseji was wading on the Great Barrier Reef and stood upon a stone fish.
Despite wearing boots at the time, the spines penetrated Dr. Wasseji’s skin and injected venom. He succumbed to the venom several days later.
Associate Professor Jamie Seymour, from James Cook University, has spent over 20 years studying venomous marine species including stonefish and says stings from the animal are not uncommon.
“Maybe a thousand people each year get stung by these things up the East Coast of Australia,” he said in a Youtube research video.
Professor Seymour has been involved in ‘milking’ programs in the past, harvesting the fish’s venom for the creation of stonefish anti venom.
“It’s probably one of the most well-used anti venoms in Australia,” he adds.
Evandale Lake is a long-established man-made tidal lake that is sometimes popular with swimmers.
Despite an extensive search, the Gold Coast Bulletin has since reported that none of the divers could locate any of the elusive and camouflaged stonefish in the lake.
Mayor Tom Tate is famous for his ongoing battles with the environmentally-minded demographic amongst his community.
The latest claim from Lord ‘Kill Him Dead’ adds to a growing amount of arguably disturbing comments and pet-project plans from the mayor dating back to early in his first term when he declared to local media, “the days of saving the green frog on the Gold Coast is over” under his bright leadership.
Tate’s Environmental Top Seven
7) Fear Of Fish – When asked by a journalist about the prolific marine life that lives in the Gold Coast Seaway, Mr Tate dismissed the wildlife living there by admitting he is frightened of it.
“I wouldn’t wanna paddle across there, look down, there’s all sorts of sthings (sic) under the water,” he said.
The Seaway boasts around 470 documented species of spectacular marine life including endangered turtles, rays, sharks, dolphin, exceptional fish life and even the occasional dugong or humpback whale. It is one of the world’s top shore-access dive sites and is estimated to be worth tens of millions to the city each year in tourism revenue and appeal. Tate added to his evident fish phobia this week when he vowed to kill a single stonefish that was reported to have possibly taken up residence in the small lake behind his council chambers.
Green turtle inside the Gold Coast Seaway. The area is home to many resident turtles and sometimes hosts other species such as the endangered hawksbill turtle // Photo Luke Sorensen
6) Paved Paradise – Recently the mayor successfully lobbied his council to vote in favour of filling in Black Swan Lake so it may be turned into a car park for punters and horse racing fans at the adjoining Gold Coast Turf Club and racing precinct. The lake is a long-established lagoon-style lake that, despite being man-made, is popular with walkers and home to significant bird life including black swans and water fouls. The lake is currently a public space for recreation and habitat for birdlife which protestors are vowing they will fight to protect.
Black Swan Lake is in Mayor Tom Tate’s crosshairs – he wants it filled in and turned into a car park for the nearby horse racing club // Photo Wildlife Queensland
5) Dredged Oblivion – Over the last few years Mayor Tate has proposed and almost succeeded in building an international shipping port inside the Broadwater, complete with the associated development, continuous large-scale dredging and high-impact construction. It was originally planned to be located virtually on top of the most prolific marine ecology in the entire Moreton Bay region. His plan would have potentially decimated and impacted countless marine species irreparably, including highly sensitive and endangered migratory birds, turtles, fish and seagrass.
When asked about the high potential for environmental loss and degradation some of his remarks have included, “all dis bit that oh where the birds are gonna land, well if it wasn’t for man, ah, the birds wouldn’t be there,” as well as, “I weigh up this way, some seagrass versus, ah, more jobs.”
As far as the surf break at South Stradbroke potentially being wiped out, Tate responded that, “the surfers are worried because it will lose them some of the surf break,” adding later that, “I just want to point out to the surfers on the Gold Coast, there’s 65km of beach on the Gold Coast, and, take a pick,” when telling the surfing community to simply go some place else away from his terminal plans.
A cruise ship terminal inside the Broadwater would have required extensive ongoing dredging to keep the shallow estuary deep enough to accomodate large cruise ships. Cruise ships also put out up to 120,000 horsepower of thrust for each thruster, a recipe for ecological disaster inside the shallow marine sanctuary of the Gold Coast Seaway and Wavebreak Island ecological habitats // Concept image via Save Our Spit
4) Die Frog Die – One of the mayor’s most triumphant moments was when he announced proudly and gleefully to the media (and public) that, “the days of saving the green frog is over on the Gold Coast” when first elected to his position of mayor.
3) Xcat Hellish Nightmare – In 2015 the mayor, whilst overseas on one of his many secretive ‘missions’, organised for the world powerboat racing series, known as XCats, to run an event right through the Moreton Bay Marine Park and sensitive Wavebreak and Seaway marine areas of the Gold Coast’s Broadwater. Initially, Tate booked the event and signed the deal with the Dubai-based Xcat organisation without seeking any consultation or feedback from the public, and it was later learned by LiQUiFY Magazine that no environmental studies were undertaken and permits from Queensland Parks and Wildlife as well as the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection or any federal environment agencies were not sought until after community groups exposed the flaws in the event’s planning.
The area is question is subject to strong regulation and environmental treaties that were somehow ignored in the planning process. Not surprisingly when authorities above the mayor were made aware of the potential hazardous nature of the racing boats to marine life such as the resident turtle, bird and dugong populations in the area, and the correct protocols for event permits was not followed, the event organisers and Tate were denied access to the marine park forcing them to move the race partly offshore and in the open ocean.
The relocated event was also haphazardly scheduled right in the middle of the humpback whale migration season and right through the middle of a known resting area for humpback mothers and their calves. Also not surprisingly, several boats flipped in the rough conditions (ocean swell) and the series, originally booked for at least three years, was abandoned after just the single event – not before costing rate payers several millions and risking a number of key marine species in the area. Attendance was significantly poor and the live feed of the event, which was broadcast worldwide on an official Xcat Youtube feed, secured a staggering two or three hundred viewers total at its peak viewership on the finals day of racing.
2) Deadly Dredge – Out of the blue and without any public notice, the mayor recently called in a specialised Scandanavian dredging company to drive a 111-metre ship up and down the coast, sucking up sand and rock from the deep side of the surf breaks and firing it hundreds of metre’s into the back of the surf zone behind the waves. The idea is to replenish sand along the city’s beaches which is an important part of the tourism appeal of the city. The project appeared to be rife with questionable motives including the fact that the city’s beaches were already in the best shape they’d been in several years.
The dredging project sought no advice from local marine scientists and instead was reportedly driven by council engineers. The operation of the dredge ship was strangely planned to begin at the start of the humpback whale migration season, and to finish around the end of the humpback whale season. Currently several weeks into its operation, there have been whale entanglements and a several whale calf deaths observed in the areas near the dredge including one that drowned in shark netting. Whale watchers, locals and scientists have noted a massive decrease in the amount of whales closer than 2 or 3km to shore which is unusual for this time of year. Several prominent whale scientists have noted that the significantly loud sound of the dredging ship operating is potentially causing significant distress and/or disorientation, especially to young whales, and are asking why council failed to undertake any research into this before contracting the dredge company to operate.
Conservationists have also speculated that the dredge, particular the timing of its operation, is being used for an alternative purpose. They say that the mayor is currently undertaking an EIS whale survey of the area he proposes to put an oceanside cruise terminal and that the dredge will skew the results of the survey to favour the proponent of the cruise terminal proposal and downplay or falsify the potential risk of the terminal on the migrating whale population and calves. A recent council report into the feasibility of the terminal idea was heavily censored and almost the entire report into potential risks was blacked out from public view.
“The dredging will be non-stop, 24 hours, and it’s gonna to be one of those other solution (sic) as I said, towards making sure our beach is protected and preople (sic) are protected.” – Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate
Over 100 metres long and operating 24 hours a day, surfers say the noise and vibration from the dredging operation can be felt inside their bones even when the ship is many kilometres away. The ship’s vibrations and noise effect on whales is not fully understood however there have been noticeable entanglements, whale deaths and a lack of whales close to shore since the moment this beast was switched on // Photo Wilba
1) Oceanside Terminal Whale Net – After the mayor’s Broadwater and Seaway cruise ship terminal plans were abandoned in 2015, the mayor set about pushing for an oceanside cruise terminal to be built in the open Pacific Ocean off The Spit on the city’s northern beaches. It would consist of a jetty running 1.2km out to sea, right through the middle of an established humpback whale migratory route and resting area. The current plan would also include a 820m long rock wall island behind the surf break which would block swell from hitting the beaches behind it and potentially destroy one of the city’s northern beach breaks forever. Tate proposes for it to be a home port, with large-scale sewerage facilities and bunker fuel being delivered by barges from Brisbane. He also promises that hundreds of ships will eventually visit per year.In a recent submission to the federal government, leading Gold Coast humpback whale researcher, Dr. Olaf Meynecke, touched on the absurdity of the proposal and the potential for severe impacts to humpback whales should it go ahead.
“The current development proposal does not adequately address that the port will be in a humpback whale resting and calving hot spot,” he wrote, adding that the proposed terminal development would likely drive some whales away from the Gold Coast, invite ship collisions with whales and cause the majestic creatures considerable distress.
“(The) proposed mitigation measures are generalised and the development will likely result in avoidance behaviour of marine mammals, increased stress and boat strikes,” he said.
Whales like this right whale are not compatible with large ship propellers. Marine scientists believe that introducing a large-scale cruise ship home port literally into the middle of a known humpback whale migratory and resting space will significantly increase the risk of ship strike and whale injury or death // photo via New England Aquarium
It appears that humpback whales, swans, turtles, frogs, dugong, fish, endangered migratory birds and now one lonely stonefish are no match for Lord “Kill Him Dead” and his waged war against mother nature //