Over the next two weeks, local oyster farmers will descend onto the foreshores of the Clyde River, Tuross Lake and Wagonga Inlet for the mass industry led clean-up event called “Tide to Tip”. Organised by OceanWatch Australia, their spokesperson said "This is the second year of the event that sees oyster growers lead marine debris clean-ups in estuaries across the state.
"Out on the water every day, oyster farmers have an intimate knowledge of their local environment, and regularly collect rubbish they find floating in the estuary. "Tide to Tip not only provides a way for the farmers to give back to the estuaries in which they work, but helps to ensure Australian waterways remain pristine and healthy for
generations to come.
"Local oyster farmers who are coordinating the events are thrilled with the opportunity."
Linda Fernihough from Out of the Blue Oysters, Wagonga said: “The Oyster industry clean-up event provides us an opportunity to think globally and act locally. Working in an outdoor environment has its challenges; weather, industry, equipment and other social users of the waterways require farmers working together to keep our inlets clean.
Craig Lavis who farms on Tuross Lake stressed that “prevention is better than cure. It’s important to remind everybody to be mindful about taking their rubbish home with
them. Every little bit helps and if we’re going to continue producing the beautiful
oysters we’re known for; we need to keep our lake as pristine as possible”.
This sentiment is shared by oyster farmer, Jim Yiannaros from Batemans Bay
Oysters on the Clyde River, who said that “although rubbish is not a major issue in
the river, farmers are concerned that people are not aware of the rubbish journey.
"Most rubbish, if not managed properly, ends up in our catchments where it contaminates our rivers and estuaries. We hope to get 15 oyster punts on the water to clean the bay, but also raise awareness among the community.
This annual series of clean-ups is known as “Tide to Tip” and now involves 21 estuaries across NSW, and QLD. Not only do oyster farmers clean-up the area, participants also sort, curate and count the collected rubbish. A summary of the waste is documented and analysed by the Australian Marine Debris Database - a program run by Tangaroa Blue Foundation.
In 2020, the inaugural ‘Tide to Tip” clean-up involved over 250 oyster farmers from 19 oyster growing regions of NSW and QLD. Together with the help of community groups 12 tonnes of waste was removed from our estuaries.
The oyster industry across the region supports hundreds, if not thousands of jobs and is an important part of the local economy.
Partners in the clean-up program include OceanWatch Australia, Local Land Services, Eurobodalla Shire Council, Clean-up Australia, and NSW Department of Primary Industries. The clean-ups are supported by the NSW Landcare Program, a collaboration of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW Inc. supported by the NSW Government.
Above: Wagonga oyster farmers preparing to clean-up at 2020 event