Letter to the Beagle Editor: Over the last month, the majority of oyster growers across the four oyster growing estuaries in the Shire have put their support behind a Statement of Concern (below) in relation the Council’s Rural Lands Strategy. In fact, if there are any other growers who still wish to sign on contact those named at the end of this letter. Oyster growers are deeply concerned about the implications of the Strategy. Oyster growing is one of the most sustainable agriculture enterprises operating anywhere on earth and in our Shire the rivers are so pristine oysters can be direct harvested - ‘farm’ to plate. Few oyster growing areas anywhere can boast this. The rezoning proposed in the Strategy will directly impact water quality along these estuaries and therefore our industry.. So when 23 growers and investors - the majority of the industry - individually sign up to a Petition to the NSW Minister for Planning, copied to Ministers for Environment, Primary Industries and the Local State Member, Minister Constance and not a single one of them acknowledges or responds to our concerns, it is deeply alarming. The only response to the Statement has been from the State Opposition candidate, Leanne Atkinson. This is an industry which delivers not only significant economic benefit to the region but also enhances our reputation as the Nature Coast - so it benefits tourism, and supplies sustainable jobs. Surely this is something the State Government would wish to support? Name and address supplied
Statement of Concern:
Hon Anthony Roberts
NSW Minister for Planning
Macquarie Street Sydney 2000.
Statement of Concern by The Nature Coast Oyster Industry
Response to the Changes proposed to the Eurobodalla Shire Local Environment Plan (LEP) via its approved Rural Land Planning Proposal and preceding Rural Land Strategy (RLS).
The oyster industry is considered one of the most sustainable agricultural enterprises operating anywhere on earth. Without high levels of water quality, oysters are not safe for human consumption. This in turn requires a strict water monitoring regime. The ensuing benefits of this same programme are immense anywhere the industry operates.
In the Eurobodalla Shire, the rivers which are maintained as near pristine to allow oyster harvesting, also act to sustain good commercial and recreational fishing, clean rivers and estuaries for holiday makers. This is absolutely fundamental to the ‘Nature Coast’ image which the Eurobodalla Shire promotes.
Oysters are an indicator species, in that, if the oysters are healthy and suitable for human consumption, then the estuary is likely to be healthy as well. This has flow on effects for sea grasses, fish and other bird wildlife such as waders and migratory birds.
Farming oysters at the scale undertaken across the Eurobodalla Shire provides the economic driver to ensure our water ecosystems remain clean and unpolluted.
Investors, growers and marketers are all acutely aware of the crucial role our industry plays in both the economy of the region and in sustaining the natural ecosystems of Eurobodalla Shire.
It is thus with deep alarm that we have watched as Eurobodalla Shire Council did not accept the concerns raised by submissions from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries, DPI Water, DPI Agriculture, Local Land Services, the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Rural Fire Service. In essence all these expert agencies see a long-term surge in clearing and development arising from the Planning Proposal with an unacceptable decrease in water quality from the resultant runoff, siltation and pollution through increased nutrient load and rural sewage systems.
Few river systems in Australia are clean enough to allow direct oyster harvest – even after rain – but the Clyde, the Tuross and the Wagonga river systems do. In fact, Eurobodalla’s river systems are regarded as one of the most environmentally pristine oyster-growing regions in the world. Despite the Council acknowledging the significance of the industry to the local economy by supporting the development of a $2.3 million Oyster Hatchery at Moruya, the changes proposed in the RLS threaten the viability of the Hatchery Initiative.
The opposition expressed in this Statement to the changes proposed by Eurobodalla Council is based on our strong belief that the benefits we deliver as an industry are being threatened, and also by the significant concerns raised by Government expert bodies who assist and guide both Council and our Industry.
Local Land Services has expressed grave concern that the greatest threat to estuarine environmental zones is agricultural diffuse runoff and stock grazing. The RLS proposes exempting grazing in many of these zones. Through hard experience the LLS notes that restoring such zones after damage from agriculture is time consuming and extremely costly.
Runoff from the dramatically increased number of development possibilities within the rural zone is of serious concern.
• There is a 58% increase in possible land uses in RU1 with 84 possible uses,
• a 143% increase in RU4 with 53 possible uses,
• and in previous 1a1 environmental zones that will become RU1, there is a 171% increase in possible land uses.
Many of these impacts will be concentrated into smaller lot sizes. 23% of the entire shire is affected by these land use changes, many of which have been found by agencies to be incompatible with rural activities.
DPI-Fisheries strongly opposes the increased subdivision of rural lands via the Eurobodalla LEP. It does this because additional dwellings will increase residential stormwater runoff to oyster growing estuaries and because remote dwellings often do not install on-site sewage management and town service sewages are not be available. This has significant implications for water quality in the estuaries where our industry operates. The LEP also removes the need for sealed roads to be part of developments on subdivided land. Unsealed roads are established as a significant contributor of sediment to waterways. Our industry notes this aspect of the RLS with deep alarm.
The Office of Environment and Heritage raises concerns that rezoning of heavily forested steep gradient land along rivers in the Shire so that they can be subdivided, logged for timber or grazed by cattle will not provide adequate protection for riparian areas. Undisturbed riparian waterways are vital to ensure the protection of water quality supporting aquaculture aquatic habitats. This is of considerable concern to our industry.
In the objections raised by the Rural Fire Service our Industry notes with alarm that there will be a need for greater tree clearing on subdivided land and for many of dramatically increased number of development possibilities – to ensure asset protection zones are maintained around buildings and access roads. This means increased runoff to our waterways. Trees and vegetation deter, restrict and purify runoff from land-based activities. This too raises considerable concern by us as an industry.
The members of our industry fundamentally wish to develop a strong, regional industry which builds on the underpinning image of our Nature Coast – a clean, green area which delivers on jobs and environment. We are deeply concerned that the changes which Eurobodalla Council has approved in the RLS will benefit only those interested in subdivision of land and hold no benefits to our industry, or to the natural environment in which we operate and which residents of Eurobodalla Shire cherish.
We call for the Minister of Planning to refuse the proposed planning changes and for the Eurobodalla Shire Council to review the issue of appropriate rural zoning and land uses. This review should call on the assistance of the expert State agencies and the involvement of a community advisory committee that reflects the broad Shire community, including agreed representatives of the oyster industry.
Name Industry Involvement
Julie Taylor Mills Oyster Industry Investor
Mark Mills Oyster Industry Investor
Ewan McAsh Oyster Farmer and Investor
Kevin McAsh Oyster Farmer, Clyde Estuary
Brian Coxon Oyster Farmer, Wagonga Estuary and Coordinator Quality Assurance Programme – Wagonga Inlet
Jason Finlay Oyster Farmer, Clyde Estuary
Jim Doyle Oyster Farmer and Investor, Clyde Estuary
Terry Lucas Oyster Farmer, Clyde Estuary
Rohan Rivett Oyster Grower, Clyde Estuary
Steve Ralston Oyster Farmer, Clyde Estuary
Stuart Kennedy Oyster Farmer, Clyde Estuary
Dennis Kelly Oyster Farmer, Clyde Estuary
Martin Jackson Oyster Farmer – Clyde River and Coordinator Quality Assurance Programme – Clyde River
Stefan Paschalidis Oyster Farmer, Clyde Estuary
Chris Paschalidis Oyster Farmer, Clyde Estuary
Glenn Jones Oyster Farmer, Tuross Estuary
Graeme Campbell Oyster Farmer, Moruya, Wagonga, Tuross estuaries
Robert Henning Oyster Farmer, Wagonga estuary
Ray Wilcox Oyster Farmer, Clyde Estuary
Anita Saeck Oyster Farmer ,Morya and Tuross Estuaries
Nick Thorne Oyster Farmer, Moruya and Tuross Estuaries
Jacqui Courtney Oyster Investor, Clyde Estuary
Ruben Fernandez Oyster Farmer, Moruya , Tuross and Wagonga Estuaries