The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling on the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries to require the Forestry Corporation to comply with its Fisheries Licence and immediately stop illegal logging of headwater stream buffers in habitat of the Endangered Purple Spotted Gudgeon and to prosecute Forestry for the hundreds of steam buffers unlawfully logged over the past year.
NEFA is holding a march in Coffs Harbour at 10 am today (Wednesday) from the Forestry Corporation office to the Fisheries office to demand that both Government bodies comply with their obligations to protect the Endangered Purple Spotted Gudgeon in accordance with the terms of the Fisheries Licence issued under section 220ZW of the Fisheries Management Act, 1994.
The Purple Spotted Gudgeon is a small attractive freshwater fish. It was listed as Endangered in NSW in 2008 and since then the Forestry Corporation has been required by its Fisheries Licence to not log within 10m of headwater streams in Purple Spotted Gudgeon habitat.
"It took Fisheries 8 years to map the habitat of the Purple Spotted Gudgeon so that the protection provisions of the Licence would be activated. Since they released their maps last May they have turned a blind eye while the Forestry Corporation have continued to log headwater streams that constitute habitat under their licence", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"The Forestry Corporation are knowingly and intentionally breaching their licence. These breaches are neither technical nor minor, they are undoubtedly causing significant harm to our streams and their inhabitants. DPI Fisheries have a duty to ensure the licences they issue are complied with.
"NEFA first raised concerns about logging of streams in Gibberagee SF with DPI Fisheries on 8 February, and specifically about the Purple Spotted Gudgeon on the 21 March 2017 asking them to investigate the Forestry Corporation's illegal logging of streams at Gibberagee and to stop it forthwith.
"Since then NEFA have documented 43 compartments in State Forests where the Forestry Corporation state they are currently logging "unmapped" streams in what legally constitutes habitat of the Purple Spotted Gudgeon. These compartments are scattered through the headwaters of the Clarence River, Corindi River, Macleay River, Manning River, Hastings River, Camden Haven River, and Coolongolook River.
"When the Forestry Corporation refused to give our lawyers undertakings to comply with the Fisheries Licence requirements relating to Purple Spotted Gudgeon, our lawyers wrote to DPI Fisheries on 20 April asking them to investigate the 43 compartments and inform us by 5 May 2017 as to what action they would take.
"When they failed to respond we wrote to their Minister, Niall Blair, on Monday. Yesterday Fisheries told us they have commenced an investigation" said Mr. Pugh.
"Over the past year the Forestry Corporation has illegally logged hundreds of headwater streams in the habitat of the Purple Spotted Gudgeon and DPI Fisheries has done nothing to stop it. It is astounding that this has been allowed to continue for the months since NEFA brought it to their attention.
"Protection of headwater streams is vital for the health of our rivers and their fish. The evidence is that 30 metre buffers are required. It is reprehensible that even 10m buffers are not being applied.
"For the sake of the Purple Spotted Gudgeon and the health of our rivers the Forestry Corporation must be made to comply with the threatened species provisions of the Fisheries Management Act, and its Fisheries Licence. Logging of headwater streams must stop now. Fisheries must prosecute the Forestry Corporation for these deliberate and ongoing breaches of threatened species' laws" said Ms Orrego.