Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Fish n Chips not Mega Ships!

"All the major economic sectors in the lower Clarence Valley are dependent to a considerable extent on understanding and protecting the estuary’s and floodplain’s natural processes and values." [DLWC, Umwelt (Australia Pty Ltd, 2003, Clarence Estuary Management Plan: The Clarence Estuary - A Valued Asset]

The economic value of tourism is worth an est. $239.4 million per annum to the Clarence Valley with recreational fishing forming a significant part of the region's income and, in 2010 the commercial fishing industry was worth an est. $92 million annually to the valley.

The economies of the three main towns in the Clarence River estuary are heavily based on commercial and recreational fishing and water-based tourism, with Yamba and Iluka being principal holiday destinations.

Boating is a major recreational activity, with 90% of recreational boating related to fishing and 61% involving retired people. [Clarence Valley Council, 2003]

Fresh seafood caught locally forms part of the staple diet for many Lower Clarence households.

These are the faces of some of the people who threw a line in the last two months:

Bluff Beach, 10 June 2016

Catch at Moriaty’s Wall, 8 June 2016

26 May 2016

31 May 2016

Iluka Beach, 18 May 2016

Off the break wall, 8 June 2016

Brown's Rock, 16 June 2016

[Images from Iluka Bait & Tackle]

However, Australia Infrastructure Developments Pty Ltd and Deakin Capital Pty Ltd - along with Messrs. Des Euen, Thomas Chui, Lee and Nigel Purves - want to destroy this great year-round and holiday lifestyle by lobbying government to allow the 
construction of a large industrial port covering over 27 per cent of the Clarence River estuary.

Thereby severely compromising lower river commercial and recreational fishing grounds with the constant movement in and out of the river of mega ships such as these:

[North Coast Voices, February 2016]

With their bow wave and propeller wash sucking at known seagrass beds as well as riverbanks along the main estuary channels as they pass. 

Many of us who live on the river are firmly of the belief that we would rather have

“Fish n Chips not Mega Ships!”

Brief Background

Long before the arrival of Europeans in the area, local Bundjalung people were fishing the waters of the 'big river' for oysters and fish, as evidenced by the large middens found along the river banks and coastline. The first settlers to the area found a bountiful river surrounded by dense subtropical forests and swamps flowing out to the coastline. Fish were easy to come by and made up an important food source for the early settlers who set about developing forestry and farming in the area. Grafton was established in the 1850’s with the river being a principal source of transport. The introduction of sheep grazing to the area occurred in the late 1850’s and sugar cane farming was carried out as early as 1868 (Anon, 1980a). A small commercial fishery had its beginnings in 1862 when fish were caught to supply workers and their families employed in the construction of the river entrance works. This major project was designed to provide safe navigation for the coastal steamers that traded upriver. Commercial fishermen were supplying fish to the local market by the 1870’s, particularly seasonal fishing for mullet, which was an important local industry supplying the Grafton market (Anon, 1880). The fishing industry began in earnest in 1884 when shipments of fish were sent to Sydney twice a week, weather permitting. The fish, mainly whiting, bream, flat tailed mullet and flathead were packed in ice in large insulated boxes. The boxes were then reused to bring ice on the return trip (Anon, 1994). [Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, A socio—economic evaluation of the commercial fishing industry in the Ballina, Clarence and Coffs Harbour regions, 2009]

o   The commercial industry in Northern NSW provides about one-third of the product (fish) landed in the whole of NSW.
o   An assessment of fish stocks in NSW indicated most fisheries are probably sustainable but that there should be no expansion of catches.
o  The economic modelling results demonstrated that the industry provides quantifiable economic benefits to the Northern NSW region in the form of output, income, employment and value added (gross regional product).
o  The combined harvesting and processing sectors of the industry in Northern NSW provided total flow-on effects of $216 million derived from output, $36.1 million in income, 933 employment positions and $75.5 million in value added.
o   Two-thirds of the money generated by the operation of the industry is spent in the local and regional economies.
o   Commercial fishing activity in the Clarence River occurs in the Estuary General and Estuary Trawl Fisheries.
o   The ocean fleet has home port facilities in both Yamba and Iluka.
o   The Clarence River Fishermen's Co-op operates two depots with Maclean primarily processing catch from the river fishery and Iluka processing catch from the offshore fishery.
o   Ocean Hauling was one of the earliest fisheries to be utilised on the beaches in the Clarence district and continues to be an important fishery in the area.
[Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, 2009 & Clarence Valley Council, 2016]

o   In 2010 Clarence Valley Council estimates that the commercial fishing industry is now worth over $92 million and generates over 430 jobs, while the recreational fishing industry which forms a large part of the $280 million tourism industry in the Valley generates much of the economic base of Yamba, Iluka and Maclean.
o   Due to tourism Yamba and Iluka regularly double their population during major holiday periods and many retired and family holiday makers are thought to be drawn to the area by fishing and other recreational opportunities on the river.
o   Commercial ocean fish and crustacean species both breed and feed in the Clarence River estuary system.
[J.M. Melville, Submission to the Inquiry into the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on Regional Australia, No. 177, December 2010]

All the major economic sectors in the lower Clarence Valley are dependent to a considerable extent on understanding and protecting the estuary’s and floodplain’s natural processes and values…..
The outstanding threat nominated by the Maclean group was population growth and urban development, particularly where this is located close to the estuary. This is an interesting result, given that the Clarence overall is not an urbanised waterway. It may reflect the rapid changes that are occurring in Yamba, and the view in the community that further growth in this area will require major sustainability issues to be addressed. The appropriate growth rate and style of development in Yamba has been a major source of discussion for residents in the lower Clarence, especially in response to Council’s interpretation of the results of its community survey on the future of Yamba. Several other frequently nominated threats were examples of the types of threats that are associated with poorly managed urban growth that exceeds the capability of the natural system. Declining health of the estuary (from any cause) was perceived as a major threat by the lower Clarence community, acknowledging the high economic dependence on estuary health in this area.


Nick Mosey said...

An exceptionally fine piece - and putting the emphasis in exactly the right place. I have sent representation on this to all lower house NSW MP's - wish I'd seen this first - but will followup to them with a link to this unless you object.

NCV Admin said...

North Coast Voices would never object to the use of its posts in the cause of lobbying for the protection of the Clarence River.