Decaying and abandoned oyster leases along the north coast are not only an eyesore but also a health hazard, according to North Coast Local Land Services.
And following a pilot project to fund removal of the out-dated structures at Camden Haven, the program is now being extended to other areas including the Tweed.
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 clean-up program administered by NSW DPI.
‘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.’ Mr Sleeman said.
The work is being undertaken by local oyster farmers who have experience in specialised marine salvage.
To date 1,300 timber posts and 300 meters of rail have been removed from just over a hectare area of Watson Taylors Lake at Camden Haven.
‘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,’ Mr Sleeman said.
The project partnership between North Coast Local Land Services and OceanWatch Australia is also working with Tweed oyster farmers to develop an Environmental Management System – a document to identify risks and opportunities, to improve industry sustainability and implement best practice management.
Removal of old infrastructure and replacing/upgrading these with long lasting plastic products has been identified as an immediate priority.
The planned upgrade will save growers time and money and help protect the estuarine environment.
North Coast Local Land Services is supporting the roll-out of the project through funding from the National Landcare Programme, in conjunction with OceanWatch Australia and Tweed River oyster farmers.