From Hacking Headwaters to the Sea – a virtual journey for Seaweek 2021

This webinar with Gary Dunnett from National Parks Association was part of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre and SO Shire celebration of Seaweek 2021. Gary’s presentation weaves together the story of the establishment of the Royal National Park with the richness that comes from a relatively intact catchment – a photographic journey with exquisite images from the headwaters of the Hacking River catchment, to the sea.

Sutherland Shire coastal ecosystems are beautiful, diverse, and amazingly complex. Each element in these ecosystems plays a role. This webinar highlights the amazing biological diversity at our doorstep which exists as part of that ecosystem, touches upon the benefits of a long protected catchment, and some of the threats even an iconic protected catchment such as this is now facing.

Before the main presentation Sarah-Jo Lobwein of SO Shire introduces SeaWeek 2021 and our guest speaker. Each year Seaweek events aim to encourage an appreciation of the sea, marine and coastal environments. The focus Seaweek 2021 events was how the ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre has been promoting the ecological value of the Hacking River catchment since our inception 30 years ago.  In the early days, our centre raised concerns with politicians and the Environmental Protection Agency about the effect of toxic run-off from coal mines, near Helensburgh, a concern that sadly continues to this day.

In the early 2000’s, the Centre merged with the Port Hacking Protectorate group and ran a Port Hacking Estuary Forum that was attended by local, state and federal politicians from multiple parties, representatives from key Government Authorities and Departments as well as members of local Indigenous groups. The forum highlighted the negative impacts that runoff and sewage were having on seagrass and molluscs and lent additional support for monitoring and oversight that were being provided by the Port Hacking River Keeper program and the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee.

It is a great shame that none of those programs or committees exist today. Current management of the Hacking river, tidal flats and bordering land has been divided up amongst an array of state and federal agencies that operate at arms-length in a piece-meal manner. An extra blow on local management of the Hacking estuary was dealt with the disbanding of the Fisheries Research facility at Hungry Point in 2013.

Sutherland Shire Environment Centre continues to educate and advocate to maintain and improve the precious environment of the Hacking River, including liaising with Sutherland Council and other stakeholders on issues related to mining, recreation, dredging and plastic and other pollutants that impact on its ecological health.

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