A Legislative Council Select Committee on Dolphins in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary and Port River was established in June 2022 ‘to inquire into and report on further legislative and policy measures to better protect the dolphins in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary’.
24 submission were made to the inquiry, including by Mike Bossley and the City of Port Adelaide Enfield, and 30 presentations were made to the Committee, including by ECF. Here’s the link to ECF’s presentation – Select Committee_Dolphin Sanctuary_27th October 2022_ECF presentation
The ECF highlighted the systemic nature of the problems including lack of a governance structure for the Estuary, paucity of funding for relevant government agencies (EPA, NP&WS, Coast Protection Board, Stormwater Management Authority), inadequate understanding of sources of pollution in the Estuary.
The Select Committee has released an Interim Report – Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Report 2022 – interim report of Select Cttee, advising
“Submitters to the Inquiry expressed concerns about the health of the ADS dolphins and the ecosystem more broadly. Concerns were specifically about the:
1. Declining health of the resident population of ADS dolphins;
2. Recent mortalities and/or disappearances of the ADS dolphins; and
3. Number of ADS calves that are not surviving until weaning.
Submitters also identified potential threats to the ADS ecosystem and suggested management responses to the threats identified. Threats to the ADS identified by submitters were:
1. The lack of clarity over who has authority and responsibility;
3. Some fishing practices;
4. Industry and wastewater discharges into the ADS;
5. The speed of boats and other on-water motorised vehicles;
6. The lack of visible enforcement; and
7. The loss of mangroves and other native vegetation.
The Committee found that the objects of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Act 2005 are not being met. Although a single cause for the dolphins’ declining health and mortalities has not been discovered, the Minister for Environment and Water should continue to support research into the health of the ADS ecosystem and dolphin population structure.
Further, the Minister for Environment and Water should work with stakeholders on a transparent governance framework to provide clarity of regulatory authority of the ADS. The Minister should also consider establishment of an advocate for the ADS or specialist advisory board to help guide adaptive management and mechanisms to allow the Minister to act proactively and reactively to mitigate impacts”.
The ECF looks forward to the Government’s response to the Select Committee’s Interim Report. Its final report is due in 2023.