Ballina Shire Council has called on the state government to maintain a complete ban on the harvesting of pipis along Ballina’s beaches unless the mollusc populations can be safeguarded.
The state government has a moratorium on commercial harvesting in place all along NSW beaches as a result of a recent widespread and massive decline in the mollusc numbers, but that is expected to be lifted on 1 June.
Cr Sharon Cadwallader last week was backed by all other councillors in her move calling on primary industries minister Katrina Hodgkinson, local government minister and Ballina MP Don Page and Fisheries NSW to ensure the ban stays on Ballina’s beaches until each beach is assessed for pipi populations and their viability for any commercial harvesting in future.
Cr Cadwallader said 1,000 tonnes of the delicacy were harvested from South Ballina beach alone in the five years between 2000 and 2005.
‘People saw excavators pulling them out and most of them were destined to be served in restaurants in Sydney; our beaches were laden with pipis then,’ she said.
‘I remember not that long ago many people saying they could pick them up by the handful there, but you just can’t do that anymore.’
She said a range of factors had caused the pipis decline including harvesting, disease and unrestrained four-wheel-drive vehicular access to beaches.
‘It’s a popular food source, but commercial harvesting has been banned in Queensland and South Australia and I don’t believe it’s a sustainable industry anymore.
‘I’ll be surprised if the state government doesn’t listen to us. They must’ve had concerns to put a moratorium on in the first place, but there has not been any survey done on whether future harvesting is sustainable; it needs more research.’
‘It’s crazy to lift the ban so soon.’