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Byron Shire
June 9, 2023

Cleaning up the Richmond River

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OzFish Unlimited Richmond River Chapter cleaning up the Richmond. Photo supplied

Like many who have suffered in the floods the Richmond River estuary is still feeling the weight of last year’s weather event.

But, even before the floods, it was graded as the waterway with the worst water quality in New South Wales. Today, the Richmond River desperately needs a TLC after being treated like a rental car.

Sensitive local waterway

Just a small portion of the debris choking the Richmond River. Photo supplied

This sensitive local waterway is still suffering from flood debris that could be toxic to native
animals and harmful to fish habitats.

To address this, OzFish Unlimited Richmond River Chapter mobilised its members in a clean-up effort at the start of March as part of the Clean Up Australia Day initiative.

The first step was to use our OzFish drone to identify the most harmful flood debris to
aquatic life, which could break down after repeated exposure to the summer heat.

Once key clean-up zones were identified, the right tide and weather conditions had to align
before the OzFish members could access the rubbish that needed removal. The volunteers then secured a private vessel and removed 440kg of ropes, nets, steel, fibreglass and plastics of all descriptions.

Although clean-up crews had been through this area of the river in late 2022, there was still debris that continued to surface and threaten the ecological balance of this fragile

Rubbish removal incredibly important

So much more needs to be done on the river to make it clean. Photo supplied.

OzFish, Richmond River President, Ray Klerck, said removing rubbish from the river is incredibly important. ‘Local wildlife, such as our river turtles, can and do get entangled in things like rope and nets.

‘Our local animals can also mistake it for food as the plastics break down in the summer
sun, making them sick.

‘On a more global scale, rivers leach harmful chemicals into the ocean that contributes to
oceanic microplastics. Ultimately, everyone suffers if Ballina’s residents sit back and do

‘Projects like these undertaken by OzFish volunteers are crucial to returning the river to its
former glory. If we aren’t going to do it, then who is?’

How can you help?

Anyone ie welcome to join the clean up. Photo supplied.

If you are looking for ways to help you can join in on in planting days around the river banks spearheaded by not-for-profits, such as Landcare Australia and OzFish Unlimited.

Team lead for the Richmond River’s chapter of oyster-related projects, John Larsson, says OzFish Richmond River Chapter is also looking to secure funding to buy a 14-16 ft flat bottom work tinnie. ‘OzFish volunteers are always out on the water in some kind of private vessel for clean-up days, working on oyster reef restoration or chasing down sources
of poor water quality water with our test gear.

‘We are working toward getting a vessel that can be employed full-time to rehabilitate the
Richmond River.’

If you would liketo support the group to purchase a tinnie or in you need more information, visit: ozfish.com.au or call Ray Klerck on 0405 037 511.

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  1. Well done John, Ray and all other champions involved!

    Potentially the most important environmental task for our region and beyond….

    The Richmond and Wilson rivers require a lot of planting, re-establishment of healthy riparian zones from the various creeks to the river mouth.

    A big task that also requires local councils, various NSW Govt Departments and federal agencies could work together…usually the hardest part sadly!


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