Marine ecological monitoring, Bell Bay Pulp Mill

Marine ecological monitoring program at the proposed ocean outfall site of the Bell Bay Pulp Mill

A pulp mill proposal for the Tamar Valley, northern Tasmania, includes an effluent outfall that discharges 3 km offshore from Five Mile Bluff on the north coast. Aquenal was commissioned to design and implement a marine ecological monitoring program to collect pre-commissioning data at the outfall site which can be used as a baseline for subsequent monitoring of the impacts of mill effluent on the marine environment.

Marine ecological monitoring, Bell Bay Pulp MillMarine ecological monitoring, Bell Bay Pulp Mill2Marine ecological monitoring, Bell Bay Pulp Mill

Aquenal selected an MBACI design for the monitoring program, as this approach had been recommended for assessment of impacts from pulp mill effluent. The keys aspects of this design involve multiple survey events both before and after commissioning at multiple control and impact sites. Aquenal has worked with the client, government agencies and expert statisticians to develop the monitoring design to ensure it includes relevant biological variables and has adequate statistical power to detect impact resulting from effluent discharges. Pilot studies were conducted during 2005-2006 to collect data needed for the monitoring design phase, whilst pre-commissioning surveys were initiated in 2007 and are ongoing.

Parameters monitored include abundance and diversity of benthic infauna and reef fish, and percentage cover of benthic epiflora and epifauna. Benthic infauna are sampled from open, sandy habitat using benthic grabs, whilst benthic epifauna/epiflora and reef fish are sampled using photo quadrats and baited video techniques respectively on low profile reef.