Oyster farmers clean up estuaries

Oyster farmers clean up estuaries
Oyster farmers teamed up with Kempsey Shire Council to clean up near South West Rocks a part of the third annual Tide to Tip program.

The third annual Tide to Tip clean-up is underway with north coast oyster farmers spearheading the removal of rubbish from estuaries this week.

Port Stephens oyster farmers teamed up with NSW Farmers, Oceanwatch, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Hunter Local Land Services to remove almost two tonnes of rubbish from local water ways.

Oyster farmers from the Macleay, Camden Haven and Nambucca regions also joined in on this worthy mission today. The 2022 Tide to Tip program kicked off on the Hawkesbury River on 18 February followed by the Shoalhaven and Crookhaven Rivers on the South Coast.

Tide to Tip will head to a number of other estuaries on the north and south coast in the next two week.

Port Stephens’ oyster farmer Mark Salm said their group used local knowledge to pinpoint key rubbish congestion locations.

“I have to say that oyster farmers do a get a buzz out of this, its rewarding to see all the rubbish in one pile,”

Port Stephens oyster farmer and NSW Farmers member Mark Salm

“We get great positive feedback from the public. They think it’s cool that oyster farmers are involved in collecting all this rubbish.”

“It’s mostly plastics, but we get tyres, gas bottles and we found an abandoned boat this year.”

An abandoned boat was collected as part of the Tide to Tip in Port Stephens.

Now running in its third consecutive year, Tide to Tip sees oyster farmers from across NSW and interstate work together with local community groups to clean up their estuary and foreshore, removing tonnes of marine litter every year.

This year there are 21 estuaries across Australia participating.

More than 250 oyster farmers and community members stepped up last year and removed more than 10 tonnes of rubbish. The inaugural 2020 Tide to Tip program saw around 250 volunteers remove 12 tonnes of rubbish from 19 oyster growing regions of NSW and QLD.

Rubbish collection results from the last two years of the Tide to Tip program. Image courtesy of nswoysters.com.au

NSW Farmers Oyster Project officer Andy Myers said oyster farmers have an intimate knowledge of their local environment.

“They are often the first to report water pollution events and upstream disturbances,” Andy said. “With the health of the environment intimately linked with their future income, they also have a vested interest to maintain and improve estuary condition.

“Tide to Tip not only provides a way for fishers and farmers to give back to the estuaries on which their livelihoods depend, but helps to ensure Australian waterways remain pristine and healthy for generations to come.”

Just some of the rubbish finds in the Tide to Tip day out at South West Rocks

Andy said he continues to be impressed with the commitment from farmers to maintain and protect their waterways.

The Tide to Tip program is supported by OceanWatch Australia, Clean Up Australia Day, NSW Local Land Services, Sapphire Coast Wilderness Oysters, NSW DPI, the Australian Government, Ozfish, and the NSW Landcare Program.

Learn more about the NSW oyster industry here.

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