Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens) wants the state government to chip in to help clean up the Richmond River.
In July, the Richmond scored a D- for river health in a scorecard compiled by Ecohealth and the University of New England.
Earlier in the year, an organisation of concerned community groups was formed to look at tackling the issue.
And Ballina Deputy Mayor Keith Williams has spearheaded creating a $300,000 budget for a council campaign to clean up the river.
But Ms Smith says an all-of-government approach is vital if the river, which is in a severe state of decline, is to be saved.
‘I have written to the Premier in support of Ballina Shire Council’s request that I organise a NSW Government response to oversee the many different improvements needed to rehabilitate the 237km long Richmond and its tributaries,’ Ms Smith said.
Neglected for decades
‘The Richmond River is of national significance; it should not be left solely to local councils such as Ballina Shire Council or its ratepayers to bear the burden of rehabilitating a river that has been neglected by state government for decades.
‘Wonderful community groups such as OzFish and LandCare have been using donations and volunteer help to try to improve riverbanks by replanting trees, but they need state government help and funding.
‘When I was a child, oyster farming was a viable industry in Ballina and my grandfather was an avid fisherman here.
‘[Now] mud and silt cover the riverbed and tourists complain they are disappointed with the fishing. Invasive weeds are destroying native vegetation, adding to riverbank erosion and muddying the waters with soil.
Carp up, oysters down
‘Introduced carp species are causing further damage. The oysters are gone, with very few able to survive. This in turn limits the river’s natural filtration system.
We need funding and co-ordination at a state Government level to bring the Richmond back to a healthy level and to restore the wildlife in and around the river.
‘Improving the health of the river will be good for fishing, and great for tourism. I call on the Premier to act now,’ Ms Smith said.