Nicolas Tessier, Delphine Tessier, James Ford, Jason and Tony Donohue left Nambucca river sparkling clean after Tuesdays event.
Nicolas Tessier, Delphine Tessier, James Ford, Jason and Tony Donohue left Nambucca river sparkling clean after Tuesdays event.

Oyster farmers take action against marine litter on the Northern Rivers

MORE than 250 oyster farmers across Australia have united in their fight against marine debris through a series of industry lead clean up events dubbed 'Tide to Tip'.

Organised by OceanWatch Australia, the initiative was designed to empower oyster farmers to lead and participate in clean-ups within and surrounding Australian waterways.

Across the Northern NSW region, oyster farmers from the Tweed River, Brunswick River, Richmond River, Nambucca River, and Macleay River are all participating by volunteering their time and equipment to clean-up efforts.

Oyster farmer, James Ford from Nambucca River Oysters, said: "This will be the first official river clean-up the industry has done in the Nambucca River and we hope it's only the beginning of a series of annual clean ups for years to come. We'd love to see the initiative grow and involve other waterway users and boaters, to bring them on board at a larger scale."

According to Todd Graham, an oyster farmer from the Macleay River, while farmers have always done their best to remove rubbish from the fragile waterways, this was "a great opportunity to work as a group".

"The support from OceanWatch is going to mean that these clean-ups statewide, are a massive effort with a very effective outcome not only for the immediate health of our waterways, but also for the long term. These are sustainable solutions the whole community can contribute to."

At a recent event at Nambucca, OceanWatch project manager (aquaculture) Andy Myers said that participants collected nearly half a tonne, or 460kg, of rubbish.

The usual suspects included bottles, glass and blue drums that escaped from oyster rafts during the floods, but the team also pulled some more bizarre items from the waterway including tyres, thongs and a mesh bag filled with seat belt buckles.

Ocean Watch has finalised the details of 11 clean-up events so far, including the Tweed River on Wednesday 26th February.

OceanWatch Australia hopes this will be the first of many large-scale clean-ups led by the seafood industry which will not only provide a way for fishers and farmers to give back to the estuaries on which their livelihoods depend, but help to ensure Australian waterways remain pristine and healthy for generations to come.

The program is also supported by Clean Up Australia Day, NSW Local Land Services and the NSW Landcare Program.