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Cleaning up oyster infrastructure in estuaries

Oysters farmers at eventNorth Coast Local Land Services, in partnership with NSW DPI Fisheries and OceanWatch Australia are working together with North Coast oyster farmers to ensure the industry grows in a productive and sustainable manner.

An ongoing decline in oyster farming operations since the 1970s has left derelict oyster lease sites in some estuaries that are in varying stages of disrepair. These sites are not only an eye-sore, they pose potential risks to public safety and the environment.

Jai Sleeman, Senior Land Services Officer said “We’re seeing the degradation of semi-submerged infrastructure which often comprises tarred or copper chrome arsenic treated hardwood sticks and rails and these sites are targeted for rehabilitation under a state cleanup program administered by NSW DPI.

Oyster leases in the Tweed“The project partnership has funded rehabilitation and clean-up of these abandoned oyster leases in high conservation value estuaries which serve as important habitat – nursery, feeding and breeding grounds for fisheries.” Jai said.

Given the precarious and costly nature of oyster lease clean-ups, project partners have pooled funding and contracted local oyster farmers who have experience in specialised marine salvage.  To date the activity has resulted in the removal of 1300 timber posts and 300 meters of rail in just over a hectare area of Watson Taylors Lake at Camden Haven.

Jai continued, “The result is approximately 18-20 tons of treated timber being removed that has improved estuary amenity and will prevent ongoing contamination and leaching of chemicals into surrounding waters.”

The project partnership between North Coast Local Land Services and OceanWatch Australia is also working with Tweed oyster farmers on the far North Coast to develop an Environmental Management System - a document to identify risks and opportunities, to improve industry sustainability and implement best practice management.

Removing old infrastructure from oyster leasesRemoval of old infrastructure and replacing/upgrading these with long lasting plastic products has been identified as an immediate priority.  North Coast Local Land Services will support the delivery of this project through funding from the National Landcare Programme, in conjunction with OceanWatch Australia and Tweed River oyster farmers. The planned upgrade will save growers time and money and help protect the estuarine environment.

If you would like more information about the Camden Haven oyster clean-up and the Tweed oyster Environmental Management System project please contact Jai Sleeman at North Coast Local Land Services on 02 6623 3917.

Media contact:

Jai Sleeman, Senior Land Services Officer, North Coast Local Land Services
Phone 02 6623 3917

Photo captions:

  1. Camden Haven Oyster Farmer Ian Crisp contracted to remove derelict oyster lease material from Watson Taylors Lake.
  2. Tweed Oyster Environmental Management Systems partners at field event.
  3. Tweed Oyster leases, Boyd’s Bay, Cobaki and Terranora Broadwater.