Leave No Wake - A Guide to Minimal Impact Sea Kayaking in Tasmania
Minimising your impact starts when planning a sea kayaking trip:
- When planning your route, choose landing and camping sites carefully. Plan to use campsites that can accommodate your party size. A maximum of 12, even less for extended trips, is recommended. Use existing campsites where possible.
- Learn about and plan your route to avoid sensitive natural areas, especially wildlife breeding sites. These sites may vary with the seasons.
- Pack smart. Take suitable equipment to reduce your reliance on the natural environment – carry a fuel stove, a trowel to bury human waste, a suitable tent and sufficient food and clothing for the season. Avoid excess food packaging that may be left behind as rubbish.
- Secure necessary permission to visit restricted areas such as Nature Reserves or private land.
Much of your unintentional impact occurs when ashore, whether camping overnight or daytripping, especially in wilderness areas.
- Take home all your rubbish, including empty packaging, food scraps and sanitary products. Collect rubbish left by others if possible.
- Use existing campsites and tracks whenever possible. If visiting a previously undisturbed site reduce your movement around the area to a minimum. Carry, rather than drag, your kayak.
- Use a fuel stove for cooking. Campfires leave ugly scars, reduce the availability of dead timber as habitat and can escape to start destructive wildfires.
- Be sensitive where you deposit human waste. Burying your waste is a minimum: also consider disposal in the sea or even carrying it out of areas where appropriate disposal is difficult.
- Avoid using soaps or detergent when camping. Beach sand is an excellent alternative for cleaning cookware.
Meeting The Locals
Sea kayaks are perfect platforms from which to view our coastal wildlife. Here are some guidelines that will help you to reduce your impact, while still enjoying the wildlife close up:
Warning: All sea kayakers should be aware that they may require specialist skills and equipment to visit many of the places shown on this map. Before venturing out consult with any of the sea kayak clubs or commercial operators about your plans
- Learn about our wonderful wildlife. A greater understanding will help you appreciate their behaviour so that you can modify your own to minimise impact.
- Maintain a respectful distance from all wildlife, both on land and water. 50 metres from birds, seals, whales and dolphins is a rough guide but will vary with species and the season.
- Do not disturb breeding wildlife. Avoid landing on smaller offshore islands used for breeding, and camp well away from other breeding sites
Breeding seabirds Marine Reserve Seal haulout sites Seal breeding sites Fuel Stove Only Areas
Living Off The Land
Readily available food sources abound along our coastline and are great to supplement camping tucker. Reduce your impact by being self-contained and following these suggestions:
- Obtain appropriate fishing licences (for crayfish, abalone, scallops and all inland fishing).
- Learn about and observe the 'no-take' regulations governing our Marine Reserves (see map).
- Do not take undersized fish, and only keep enough to satisfy your immediate needs.
Sea kayakers may unwittingly transport plant and animal pest species to previously uninfected places. You can avoid this by following these guidelines:
- Wash all soil from tent pegs, boots etc before leaving home or moving to other campsites to avoid transporting seeds or soil-borne pathogens such as Phytophthora.
- Clean out your kayak between trips to get rid of mice, spiders, insects and other freeloaders.
- Wash any mud or plant fragments from yourself, your gear and your kayak before moving from one campsite to another.
Twenty one species of seabird breed along the Tasmanian coastline and offshore islands. The birds may breed on the surface or in burrows, in concentrated colonies or in isolated groups over a large area. The following guidelines will help you reduce your impact on breeding seabirds:
Seal Breeding Sites
Tasmania is home to three species of seal: the Australian Fur Seal, the New Zealand Fur Seal and the Southern Elephant Seal. All three breed ashore on islands around the Tasmanian coastline. These seal breeding sites are especially vulnerable to human impacts. Here are some guidelines to follow when approaching a seal breeding site:
- Seals feel most threatened when out of the water, so approach from downwind, slowly and quietly.
- In November and December, when seal pups are young, approach no closer than 100 metres, and 50 metres at all other times. This is to avoid stampedes which may injure seal pups.
- Do not swim with seals as sharks often share the same habitat.
- Back off if seals show any obvious signs of disturbance.
- Never land at a seal breeding colony.
Seal Haulout Sites
Seals often come ashore for resting and grooming at seal haulout sites. Follow the same guidelines for approaching seal breeding sites, and avoid landing at seal haulouts whenever possible, but if you must land:
- Approach from downwind, slowly and visibly so that seals are well warned.
- Do not obstruct seals' clear access to the water.
- Do not land until seals have vacated your landing site.
- Once ashore, leave the haulout site as quickly as possible.
Marine Reserves are best described as underwater national parks. To help with the sustainable management and protection of marine ecosystems these areas have a 'no-take' policy ie. no fishing or removal of underwater plant life of any sort is allowed.
Historic sites, both Aboriginal and European, dot our coastline. You can minimise your impact by recognising these sites and following some simple guidelines:
- Do not disturb shell middens, or any sites of Aboriginal activity.
- Leave any cultural artefacts where you find them. Yesterday's leftovers are today's history!
Excursions inland from coastal campsites in wilderness areas such as south west Tasmania have the potential to form tracks in previously untracked areas. This can result in visual scarring and hillside erosion.
To reduce your impact:
- Stay on formed tracks if they exist.
- Spread out if there is no track: damage to vegetation can occur at very low levels of use.
- Use forested areas rather than open slopes.
- Move on harder surfaces rather than on vegetated soil.
- Move across steeper slopes rather than travelling straight up. Any pad formed will then cause less erosion as water follows it downhill.
is a soil borne pathogen, sometimes called 'root rot fungus', that can severely damage and often kill many native plants. Phytophthora is spread through movement of soil from one site to another, often carried into an area on infected plant roots or on equipment such as vehicle tyres, boots, spades or tent pegs. It is essential therefore that any soil is washed off your equipment before moving into an uninfected area.
Fuel Stove Only Areas
Fuel Stove Only Areas are areas within some reserves where portable cooking stoves are to be used instead of campfires. These include the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and Freycinet National Park. These areas exist to reduce the risk of wildfire and to minimise the impact of firewood collection and fireplace scarring.
Knowing about Fuel Stove Only Areas does not mean that it is safe to light fires in other areas. We suggest that you can minimise impact by using a fuel stove in place of a campfire at all times, and in particular observe the following:
- No campfires in alpine and rainforest areas – there are many such areas within short walking distance of Tasmania's coastline.
- No fires on peat soils, marsupial lawns or herbfields.
- No campfires on days of total fire ban.
- No campfires on islands with roosting or beeding seabirds.
How well do you know the 21 species of seabirds breeding around Tasmania's coastline? When next out paddling why not carry one of the many pocket-sized field guides to help you with identification, a set of small binoculars so that you can observe the birds without disturbing them and a waterproof notebook in which to record your observations. Report any unusual or interesting sightings. The chart below provides some information on the breeding seasons of our seabird population.
This brochure has been prepared by a group representing recreational and commercial sea kayaking interests in Tasmania, as well as independent environmental organisations and land managers. You can find a more detailed version of the material produced in the brochure on the web at www.coastview.com.au, produced by Thomas Moore, or you can contact the following organisations:
Tasmanian Sea Canoeing Club
Telephone: (03) 6266 3148
Maatsuyker Canoe Club
Telephone: (03) 6247 7045
Licenced Sea Kayak Operators of Tasmania
Telephone: (03) 6267 5000
Department of Tourism, Parks, Heritage and the Arts:
Parks and Wildlife Service
Telephone: 1300 135 513
Department of Primary Industries and Water:
Nature Conservation Branch
(Wildlife and Vegetation Management)
Telephone: (03) 6233 6556
(Recreational Sea Fishing)
Telephone: (03) 6233 7042
Birds Tasmania (Tasmanian group of Birds Australia)
GPO Box 68 Hobart Tas 7000
Marine and Coastal
Telephone: (03) 6234 3665
This project has been funded by Coastcare - a cooperative Commonwealth/State/Local Government program supporting communities caring for our coast. Original design by Lynda Warner.
For further information on minimal impact boating, see Better Boating.