I am writing in response to Maurice Schinkel’s Letter to the Editor (February 11) in the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
The authority recently commenced a summer sampling program that includes surveys of water quality, seagrasses and waterbirds.
The surveys are focused within the north-western area of Western Port. The results from the sampling will be used as the basis for more detailed scientific studies to be undertaken later this year.
The aim of the survey is to add to the existing baseline information on waterbird populations (including shorebirds, pelagic and migratory birds) and their habitat use, with particular focus on the port development area.
In 2010, the then Port of Hastings Corporation commissioned the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research to undertake a waterbird survey of the Port of Hastings and the western region of Western Port.
The study established baseline data against which to measure future changes in habitat and waterbird distribution and to provide a first step in measuring waterbird usage of the Port of Hastings and its immediate surroundings.
The surveys began in November 2010 and finished in July 2011.
Mr Schinkel’s assertions that the authority is looking at the wrong time and for the wrong species of avifauna are incorrect.
By necessity, our investigations are focussed on the area identified for expansion and the western region of Western Port.
The current program has adopted those sites and sampling techniques that were used in the 2010/2011 survey.
This approach ensures consistency of monitoring technique and data collection, and allows for valid comparison of waterbird numbers between years.
The authority has access to a number of previous studies of birdlife, including published and unpublished works.
Following requests from Birdlife Australia and the Victorian National Parks Association, the results of the 2010/11 surveys were released to them.
I can assure the community of Western Port that the current geotechnical sampling in Western Port is not resulting in “disturbance to avifauna”, as Mr Schinkel claims.
Mike Lean, CEO, Port of Hastings Development Authority