Coffs Harbour December 2010 & January 2011 - Mark Kallman

Coffs Harbour

A very belated dive report for Coffs. I spent much of December and January in South Africa and as such only picked up some of the spearing news after returning to Coffs towards the end of January. The news was initially very promising if you did not know what had already happened. Around Christmas conditions started improving following the constant Northerlies and Southerlies not giving us much scope or hope of diving. There was suddenly some good water out wide and many divers took advantage of the fish on offer. You must also realise that the line fishers were already into the bounty on offer, so the divers had a good idea of what to expect. They got good bags of couta and wahoo but pretty soon after Christmas, Queensland flooded!

Queensland Floods

To give you an idea of the extent of the flooding, South Africa is 2/3 the size of Queensland and 3/4 of Queensland flooded with some areas under as much as 9m, that's not a typing error, 9m of water! Imagine the whole of South Africa flooded? The fact that only about 20 people were lost is remarkable. However, just looking at a city like Brisbane where as much as 1m of mud was dumped in certain areas, one can only imagine the quantity of mud that ended up in the sea. The EAC was at full speed so that mud came to Coffs at a speed of around 6 knots. Within approximately 3 days, there was no viz at all. As the muck arrived there were a few patches of clean water and a few divers scored.

Spearing

The usual haunts were out of commission with the viz similar to that in the Vaal Dam. The few spots that were still diveable had fish aggregations for a short time and a few divers got some snapper, mangrove jack, amberjack and prodigals. When I say a short time, that is exactly what happened. They arrived at a spot that was clean, started diving and with about an hour could not see the end of their guns, the change was that rapid. Conditions were getting worse quickly and eventually only the really desperate divers were trying  to dive but getting nowhere.  Then came the next whammy, the largest cyclone to hit Australia ever. A category 5 cyclone called Yasi. Queensland had hardly started cleaning up after the floods and every emergency service was already on high alert. The population was aware and to date only 1 person died during the cyclone but it looked as though we were going to get crappy water again.

Bless the Southerlies

After cursing our luck we got the mother of all southerly busters and after 4 days conditions improved in leaps and bounds but since that took place in February, hang around and you will hear all about it in the next report.

Marine Park

Oh how naive we were. We believed that a consultation process would involve the local community and since the local community had made by the far the greatest number of submissions and they were in favour of allowing better access to areas as well as protecting more, there would be some benefits for us. The process was dramatically flawed with the final ruling that all the areas we suggested being closed, getting closed as well as most of the sites we wanted opened, getting closed too. I fail to see how a politician can so blatantly go against the will of the locals but this is the second time this has happened. The thing  that is going to really sour the situation is the admission of submissions from special interest groups, 6 weeks after the closing date for submissions. Not to mention the fact that the revision has greatly exceeded its task of improving compliance and straightening boundaries. Conspiracy theorists point out that the NSW Labour government only has marine parks in seats not controlled by them and this is done to encourage a bigger green vote for them. When you read green never equate that to a conservationist. A conservationist takes time to get involved and understand the environment and are often spearos or fishers. Greens seem to have the idea that gathering your information from the popular press is all that is adequate to form a realistic opinion. Roll on the State election in March where the NSW Labour government is going to get the hiding of their life. That is more than enough winging and politics and I promise not to bring it up again.

Future Prospects

Southerlies have moved the good water in and fishing has been great. Also for a change it coincides with my time off from work.