The unnamed company, based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, copped the penalty after waste building materials dumped on protected wetlands damaged a number of marine plants.
On closer inspection by the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP), the fill was discovered to be covering the waste materials and an additional area of the adjacent wetland.
“This unlawful activity resulted in the damage or destruction of marine plants over an area of more than 620 square metres of land,” QBFP’s district officer Russell Overton said.
The land and its flora and fauna are of cultural significant to the local indigenous nation, the Kabi Kabi, who are the recognised native title holders and use the Maroochy river for food, materials and traditional medicines.
“In a statement to the court, the Kabi Kabi First Nation people said the changed landscape from the destruction and damage to the marine plants had caused harm to the Maroochy river dreamtime story,” said Mr Overton.
The business was found guilty by the Maroochydore Magistrates Court of damaging protected species of cultural significant, and fined $29,000.
Mr Overton noted that environmental protection status applies to all marine plants, regardless of whether they grow on privately or publicly owned land.
“Marine plants are a fundamental part of fish habitat and a vital natural resource that help sustain fish for the future for commercial, traditional and recreational fishing,” he said.
“Disturbances can disrupt the estuarine food chain and lead to long-term decline in fish production and general aquatic health.”