Minimal Impact Sea Kayaking [68]

By Trevor Costa

One of the stated aims and objectives of the New South Wales Sea Kayak Club is: “to encourage respect for our environment and wild places and the practice of minimum impact camping”.

Most, if not all, sea kayakers already have an appreciation of the marine and coastal environment and the wild places we paddle and respect such places accordingly. For many, sea kayaking is an integral component of expressing that respect and appreciation. However a clear reference source to better inform Club members of the environment and further encourage respect would be a handy thing.

Equally, to meet the second component of the Club’s statement that refers to “minimal impact camping” a clear reference source may be helpful. Perhaps more so as it involves the encouragement of a practice and practices involve adherence to stated guidelines or codes of conduct to direct desired behaviour. Although there is some literature on minimal impact camping available, it is more often than not pitched at the bushwalker and the land-locked environment and not the coastal camping environment experienced by a sea kayaker.

So how are we as Club members to meet the Club’s objective of encouraging “the practice of minimum impact camping”? I suspect most of us do it by commonsense and by modifying bush camping skills to the terrestrial component of our more marine oriented activity. The result, I also suspect, may be a variety of interpretations within the Club of what is minimal impact camping and an equal variety of behaviour undertaken in accordance. Some behaviour may actually minimise the impact of our coastal camping and other behaviours may not, even given the best intentions.

One reference source that may assist the Club and its members in meeting the above mentioned aims and objectives is the Code of Conduct for sea kayakers visiting sensitive coastal environments in Tasmania — Minimal Impact Sea Kayaking (the MISK). The MISK was developed with Federal and State Government assistance through the Coastcare program by a community group representing sea kayakers in Tasmania (sea kayaking clubs, commercial operators, environmental groups and land managers).

The principles and practices outlined in the MISK are actively promoted by the Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania under a document entitled “Leave No Wake — A Guide to Minimal Impact Sea Kayaking in Tasmania”. This document can be found on their website at: www.parks.tas.gov.au/recreation/misk/. Although the MISK is targeted at sea kayakers in Tasmania and some of the species identified are found primarily in that State, the basic principles and practices could be readily applied to sea kayakers paddling NSW waters or waters anywhere in the country. Therefore reference to “Leave No Wake — A Guide to Minimal Impact Sea Kayaking in Tasmania” could be utilised by the Club and its members to meet its stated environmental aims and objectives.

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