Ballina mayor calls for one body to anchor down river program

By PATRIZIA REIMER patrizia.reimer@northernstar.com.au THE fish may be dead, but ideas to prevent further mass fish kills in the Richmond are flowing as freely as the great river itself.

The latest has come from Ballina Shire Council mayor Phillip Silver.

Using his mayoral minute at this week’s ordinary meeting he proposed approaching the State and Federal Governments to create one body to deal with the river’s many issues in order to prevent a repeat of this year’s, and the 2001 fish kills.

“When this incident last occurred in 2001, the river was closed to fishing and other activities for in excess of six months,” he said. “This closure impacted directly on businesses that base their livelihood on the river, that is professional fishers, tour operators, bait shops etc.”

In addition there was a significant flow-on effect on our shire’s economy with many tourism operators reporting down turns of 20 to 40 per cent for this period.

This then flows onto other business operators and the shire as a whole suffers.

“There is anecdotal evidence that the problem has been improved in the Clarence and Tweed Valleys due to the investment of significant resources.

“I am concerned that seven years later we are faced with a similar problem and not much seems to have changed with the management of the Richmond River.”

Cr Silver said there are too many organisations responsible for the Richmond, including local government, the Department of Primary Industries, NSW Fisheries and many private interest groups such as the Ballina Fishermen’s Co-operative and that streamlining the river’s management could prevent further fish kills.

“There does not appear to be one body or group which has the authority and responsibility to make decisions and implement changes to management practices,” he said.

During Thursday’s meeting Cr Silver put forward a recommendation that the council ask the governments to investigate establishing a management body to oversee the preparation and implementation of a range of strategies to minimise the risk of future fish kills.

The recommendation also sought to request financial aid to business operators impacted by the event. The council voted for the recommendation.



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