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I first visited King Island, Tasmania back in 1991 after an invitation from a resident who I had met in my travels. I’ve come back 16 times since then and grown to love King island over the years. I love the easy-going country lifestyle there and how friendly folks are.

Everyone has their happy place and for me, my happiest of happy places has long been Martha Lavinia. I’ve traveled wide and far in a magazine career, that has spanned 30 years or more and in all those years Martha has stood the test of time to remain my favorite place. The surf here is extraordinary, too. Although the surfing part of the beach faces north-northeast, the swell actually comes from behind, from the south. The swell rolls up both sides of the island, (although predominantly from the east side) and wraps back in, to meet up at Martha Lavinia. Because the swell often comes from both sides of the island, it creates truly remarkable waves.

King Island, Tasmania. Photo: Stu Gibson

A proposal for a salmon farm next to Martha is threatening all this. The large cages used to hold fish have potential to hamper or drastically change the movement of the sands up the east side of Martha Lavinia Reserve. The same sands that feed the beach on the top and also create the extraordinary waves that bring surfers from all over the world. Second, the swell itself will be hampered by the presence of these cages and it might result in the loss of some waves altogether. Third, a salmon farm would bring A LOT of feces from the fish pens. That poo is going to end up covering the marine floor and is likely to wash down into the pristine white sands of the beach, also endangering the natural animal life on its ocean floor. Fourth, and of major concern to surfers, is the likely increase of predators in the area. Conveniently, those predators will be pissed off and hungry because they can’t get at this huge food source. Do we really think this is a good idea to have this right next door to recreational swimmers and surfers at a place that is already supposed to protect as a reserve?

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Naturally, plenty of recognizable names in the surf community are speaking up in defense of Martha as well. Here’s what they have to say about our need to protect this King Island gem:

Jamie O’Brien:

“I just want to say to the Tasmanian Gov’t; please don’t ruin Martha. It’s a beautiful beach. I’ve been there. Some of the most fun waves I’ve ever surfed. It’s absolutely a stunning place. Just one of those places that you should leave just how it is and let the kids enjoy and everybody enjoy what we got to enjoy. I hope to go back soon and hopefully you guys don’t ruin a beautiful thing that you guys have. Let’s all get behind this and support this good movement.”

Derek Hynd:

“A tragedy on one of the planet’s best beach breaks – probably one of the world’s top five – is unfolding on King Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania. The license for a huge fish farm set in the waters just meters from the bend that begins the beach called Martha Lavinia is close to being granted. Whether by physical pollution, overbearing smell, disturbance to the prevailing current and sand flow that sweeps into Martha’s or far worse, the attraction of Great Whites. The situation is totally unacceptable. Already rejected in other areas do to such controversial practice, this scenario cannot be allowed to unfold. LONG LIVE MARTHA and the man who put it on the map, Jeremy ‘Wire’ Curtain R.I.P.”

Pancho Sullivan: 

“I visited King Island back in 2002 and the natural beauty of the environment blew me away. I fell in love with the clean water, beautiful open green space and the pristine beaches of Martha Lavinia. King Island is a very special place that has had a profound effect on anyone who has visited her shores and it should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Fish farms come with GHG emissions, Eutrophication, and very high energy use to produce the food, not to mention the incredible amount of waste they create which will dramatically disrupt the natural ocean habitat on the area. It would be detrimental for this proposed the fish farm to be approved and I urge the Tasmanian gov’t rethink this proposal which very much threatens one of the most beautiful surfing beaches, I’ve been.”

You can find more King Island imagery from photographer Stu Gibson here. And you can find the petition to save Martha Lavinia online here



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