Oyster farmers do their bit for Tide to Tip

Oyster farmers do their bit for Tide to Tip

The second annual Tide to Tip clean-up took place last month with oyster farmers from 19 regions across New South Wales and Queensland joining other community groups to remove tonnes of rubbish from waterways.

The Tide to Tip clean-up is organised by OceanWatch Australia and is gaining growing support from the oyster industry, with many of those also members of the NSW Farmers Association.

More than 250 oyster farmers and community members stepped up during February and removed around 11 tonnes of rubbish. The inaugural 2020 Tide to Tip program also saw around 250 volunteers remove 12 tonnes of rubbish from 19 oyster growing regions of NSW and QLD. 

Oyster farmers spend large amounts of time everyday on their oyster punts and have first-hand knowledge of their local environment and regularly the collect rubbish they find washed up or floating in estuaries.

“We know these waters like few others, we know where the rubbish accumulates, and have the equipment to do something about it,” NSW Farmers’ Member Dean Cole, owner of Cole Bros Oysters in Port Stephens, said.

“We’re local people, we love where we work, and we want to ensure it remains pristine so that we can continue to produce quality oysters for the public.”

Oyster farmers in the Port Stephens area of NSW return a load of rubbish to shore.

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.

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

“Despite the challenging conditions last year on the back of fires and floods, the first year of the Tide to Tip program event was a great success. To see even greater support this year is a testament to the people in this industry, and shows the value that our seafood producers place on a healthy environment,” Mr Myers said.

Not bad for a day’s catch: Clyde River oyster growers with their haul of rubbish

The initiative to clean up waterways was driven by the Australian oyster industry, and oyster farmers are now partnering with coastal groups including professional fishermen, recreational fishers, Indigenous organisations, local schools and other community stakeholders.

“While we do our bit for the lake every day, we’re very pleased to have this opportunity to involve the broader community in the clean-up,” Craig Lavis, an oyster farmer at Turross Lake, said.

NSW Farmers’ Oyster Committee chair Todd Graham cleaning up an estuary in the Macleay Valley.

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

If you enjoyed this feature on oyster farmers, you might like to read our story on oyster farming and the new wave ahead.

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