Ian Pye Real Estate Cooloola Waters Resort Tin Can Bay
Ian Pye Real Estate Cooloola Waters Resort Tin Can Bay

The reason there are no fish at Tin Can and how we stop it

A CHANGE to the system of mooring boats in the Tin Can Bay inlet could result in a large increase in sea floor life and available fish for both commercial and recreational fishers.

The recreational fishing industry is a large driver of tourism on the Cooloola Coast.

Cooloola Coastcare co-ordinator Dr Lindy Orwin said the current mooring system was devastating the sea floor in the inlet.

Dr Lindy Orwin from Cooloola Coastcare is concerned about damage being done by boat mooring chains at Tin Can Bay
Dr Lindy Orwin from Cooloola Coastcare is concerned about damage being done by boat mooring chains at Tin Can Bay

"A while ago we realised that life on the sea floor, which has a huge impact on what can live and survive in the area, was being destroyed,” Dr Orwin said.

"We were not sure just what was causing the problem which resulted in completely bare sea floor and no sea grass.”

Sea grass is the home for numerous small animals and also grazed extensively by endangered dugong which inhabit Tin Can Bay.

Olive sea snake (Aipysurus laevis) heading to the surface for a breath - Tin Can Bay
Olive sea snake (Aipysurus laevis) heading to the surface for a breath - Tin Can Bay Josh Jensen Undersea Productions

Dr Orwin said research showed that sediment from land based activities such as four wheel driving through scrub and urban run-off were contributing factors.

"Sea floor damage in the inlet was manifest as large 200m circles on the sea floor,” she said. "These coincide with boat mooring sites.”

She said the mooring site was a large concrete block to which was fitted a 100m long heavy chain, the other end of which is attached to a buoy to which boats can moor.

Red spot box crab (Calappa philargia) running over typically apocalyptic silty nothingness - Tin Can Bay
Red spot box crab (Calappa philargia) running over typically apocalyptic silty nothingness - Tin Can Bay Josh Jensen Undersea Productions

"These chains move in and out with the tide, scraping along the sea floor. This effectively clears the sea floor of all life other than a few worms that burrow, or life that can move.”

She said the sea floor in many parts of the inlet looked like gigantic crop circles, only they are devoid of any crop.

Other similar boat moorings along the coast had changed to a non-damaging system, and within two years of the chains being replaced sea grass had returned along with a big increase in fish numbers.

Fairly common shallow and heavily encrusted Eel grass (Halodule uninervis) [left] and slightly healthier though more sparse Miniature dugong grass (Halophila minor) - Tin Can Bay
Fairly common shallow and heavily encrusted Eel grass (Halodule uninervis) [left] and slightly healthier though more sparse Miniature dugong grass (Halophila minor) - Tin Can Bay Josh Jensen Undersea Productions

She said alternatives included an auger post drilled up to 3m deep into the mud. The top of the post is just above the sea floor and a floating rope and buoy is attached.

Coastcare is contacting the various bodies, government, council and private individulas who were responsible for moorings in Tin Can Bay to see if the problem can be solved.

Gympie Times


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