SAVE OUR SPIT - No Cruise Terminal Gold Coast

Surfers v ships

Surfers aren't necessarily diehard greenies but they like the water they're surfing in to be a distinctly greeny-shade of blue.

The proposed cruise ship terminal in the seaway has caused concern among surfers who fear it could affect the world-class waves that break on the other side of the seaway, on the southern end of South Stradbroke Island.

And because surfing is so closely associated with nature, and reliant on it, they are also concerned about the unknown affect such a huge operation in the seaway will have on the northern-end of the Gold Coast, its waterways and the ocean.

Ironically, the waves at South Straddie - also known amongst surfers as TOS which stands for 'the other side' - are a result of the Gold Coast Seaway sand-bypassing project. The project was designed to mimic the natural northwards sand movement that existed before the rock walls were built on either side of the river mouth. Sand dredged from the southern side of the seaway is channelled underneath it and dumped into the wave zone at TOS, creating a build up of sand resulting in bigger, better formed `barrelling' waves than at most other Gold Coast beach breaks.

Professor of coastal management at Griffith University Rodger (correct) Tomlinson said the project would impact on the Broadwater, seaway and possibly adjacent beaches.

"In general terms with entrances such as that any modification to the lie of the land as it were, the way in which the shoal is formed, will cause changes. That's just the way nature is," Prof Tomlinson said.

But he was unaware any detailed studies had been done, without which it was impossible to determine how it might affect TOS.

"If the decision has been made to go ahead with the project then those issues need to be dealt with."

He said any alteration to the current sand-bypassing system as a result of redevelopment assosciated with the terminal would more likely impact on the waves at TOS.

Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast president Phil Arnott said the foundation was not in a position to comment on the proposal until they found out all the facts but they also wanted to see a lot more research before any proposals were acted upon.

North End Boardriders Club vice president Mark Williams has surfed at South Straddie for 20 years and said he and many of the club's 100 plus members surfed there almost every day. "I used to go over before the rock walls were built and when you spend so much time there it becomes something that's very special to you," Mr Williams said.

"It's one of the best waves the coast, it's on par with Kirra and Burleigh, and I'd hate to see that lost for so many blokes, especially when it's for something that's not necessary."

He said surfers would be concerned as much for the surrounding environment as they would be for the wave the project could affect.

"As far as the wider community goes surfers are generally a lot more environmentally conscious. Quite often you'll see a bloke see a piece of rubbish, stick it in the side his wetsuit, paddle home and put it in a bin."

"The Spit is the only natural area we've got left at this end of the Gold Coast. The amount of infrastructure they're going to have to put up there to build something they think will generate all this income, it's going to ruin the Spit, that's for sure. It's so popular because it's untouched."

Former pro-surfer, TOS regular and Godfathers of the Ocean Foundation founder Michael 'Munga' Barry said he was 'for it and against it'. "If it's good for the economy of the Gold Coast and they do it in a fashionable way with respect to the environment I think it may be a good thing," he said.

"Some surfers will (think it's a good thing for the Gold Coast) and some won't. Some people have got closed minds and they're living in their own little world. If you venture down over the border they're probably the people who will make the biggest stink."

"It's hard to say what the effects will be - if man didn't build the groynes we wouldn't have South Straddie anyway. Look what they did to Snapper and Greenmount (with regards to the positive effect the Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project has had on the surf), they're man made and they're some of the best waves in the world so it might make it even better over at South Straddie, you never know. At the moment South Straddie is definitely a world class wave."

Comments from surfers on surfing internet forum were overwhelmingly negative. One surfer called for surfers to mobilise and voice their concerns and suggested a possible name for such a movement - Surfers Against Cruise Ships (SACS).

"I ain't a card-carrying 'green', but I am a surfer, a regular Seaway user and a person interested in the environment. A terminal at the Spit will completely stuff the Seaway. Say hello to wharves, terminals, duty free shops, a fuelling plant, cranes, containers, carparks, crowds, bus & taxi terminals, tugboats, cables, drums, outfalls, drains, and other infrastructure. Say goodbye to green space, fish, sand, clean water, surfers, fishermen, boaties everything that makes the Spit a great place to hang."

Surfers and other community members this year successfully came together to stop the proposed building of an artificial reef at Palm Beach.

Mr Williams said North End Boardriders would participate in a protest against the terminal.

Clark Kent, soul surfer!

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