Region?s waterway ?kidneys? damaged

By CHRIS LYNCHchrisl@gladstoneobserver.com.au

PORT Curtis waterways have had a large proportion of their 'kidneys' removed, with more to go.

Victoria Rogers from the Centre for Environmental Management (CEM) said yesterday 17 per cent of the region's mangroves, along with 24 per cent of salt marshes, had been lost.

'Ninety per cent of this is due to industry and urban development,' Ms Rogers said.

'A further 40 hectares (40,000 square metres) are being removed for port facilities.'

Ms Rogers said this had resulted in freshwater flow diversions and reductions.

'There has been a dieback in the 'avicennia' species that could possibly be from contaminants in the water. It occurred in the '70s and may still be continuing.

'It may be industrial or it may be a fungus, that hasn't been pinpointed.'

CSIRO research leader Tony Grice said yesterday wetlands were the ''kidneys' of our catchments and ecosystems, just as forests were the 'lungs'.

'They are our water purifiers. We just can't afford to let them degrade,' he said.

Port Curtis Waterwatch coordinator Anna Hitchcock said they were also very important fish nurseries.

"Mangroves are a breeding ground for crabs and provide shelter for small animals which are heavily predated in open waters,' she said.

'They bind the banks together and reduce erosion, as well as providing a food source to bats and birds. They are good nesting sites, and basically the most biologically diverse areas on the coast.'

Ms Rogers said results of a joint research project between the CEM, Cooperative Research Centre, Department of Primary Industries and Griffith University were expected to be known later this year, including salt pans, salt marshes, mangroves, mudflats and sea grass.



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