LIving across the other side of the nation, I have just recently been alerted about The Daily Examiner articles on the Sportsmans Creek Weir and the Everlasting Swamp and the discussions about retaining the status quo or returning this wetland to the magnificence it could be and a truly beneficial and highly productive protein source and tourism opportunity for the community. While the original reason for the 1927 construction of the weir had merit a century (almost) ago it has no place in today's world - despite the spurious claims by locals to the contrary. But let's deal with the facts. The weir is no longer needed; it has served its purpose even though, in hindsight, that was probably the incorrect thing to do. What it has done is slowly strangled and damaged Sportsmans Creek and the Everlasting Swamp. However, all is not lost as the creek system and wetland can be revitalised by removing the weir and returning the tidal regime to the upper reaches. The capacity of the Everlasting, if returned to its original state, will deliver far greater protein than using it for marginal grazing and cropping as has been the norm for the past century (Google 'valuing wetlands'). The commercial and recreational fishing industries will be enormous beneficiaries of any rejuvenation - producing fish, prawns and other seafood for the local and regional communities. The resultant boost to fish stocks in the Clarence River from this habitat restoration will deliver significant long-term benefits and profits to those sectors. The 'Everlasting' could be as good as any wetland in Australia, including the renowned Kakadu. I lived in the NT for seven years and know that the jewel of wetlands in the Clarence, the Everlasting, will, if allowed, provide a platform that would emulate if not better that on display in many parts of Kakadu. The increase in people wanting to see birdlife and other attractions like improvement to vegetation, including the return of the impressive saltwater mangrove trees that my Pop told me about, will be enormous. I urge everyone to work out the benefits to the local businesses. The improved habitat for fish stocks and birdlife will deliver many benefits across the community. Holding the government of the day to account on managing the transformation of the Everlasting is essential, but just as essential is the need for the community of the Clarence to accept change. The Darwinian theory of adapt or die comes to mind. So does the great story of "Who moved my Cheese." I urge the community to have the conversation - you may be surprised to see that change is good.
John Harrison, former resident of Weir Rd, Sportsmans Creek; former CEO of the Professional Fishermen's Association on the Clarence; former CEO and President of Recfish Australia; and current CEO of the WA Fishing Industry Council
ABC News 12 November 2014: