Poor water quality to cripple Richmond River oyster industry

THE embattled Richmond River has received another wound, as this system dies its death of a thousand cuts.

QX disease has been identified in the river's oysters and will no doubt lead to yet another round of mass fatalities of these lucrative molluscs.

Long regarded as the "canary of the estuary", the oyster requires a certain quality of water to survive and for the umpteenth time in the past 30 years, the Richmond has failed to sustain its indigenous Sydney rock oyster and another local industry is crippled.

Ironic when you consider that the word Ballina was a Gaelic mishearing of the Bundjalung word "bulloonah", meaning "place of many oysters".

So we missed out on a flood and potential fish kill but the decline of the Richmond goes on.

Every Friday, The Northern Star newspaper publishes the levels of salinity and dissolved oxygen in a number of locations on the mid-Richmond. Minimum dissolved oxygen levels to support estuarine life are about 5-6 mg per litre.

Readings in Rocky Mouth Creek, Woodburn, have been below 3.5mg/l for months now, as they are almost every time it rains. This is despite big money spent on so-called remedial work in recent years.

Super Trawler
Super Trawler Greenpeace

Supertrawler fear

THE Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation (ARFF), representing the nation's rec fishers, is concerned about the 95m trawler Geelong Star's potential impact on Australia's small pelagic fishery.

ARFF this week tabled a proposal to the Small Pelagic Fishing Industry Association on its concerns at the vessel's potential impact on rec fishing.

The ARFF is worried that the trawler can work off all major capital cities and regional centres from Brisbane to Hobart and Melbourne to Perth, including some of Australia's most iconic recreational fishing grounds.

Current legislation allows the Geelong Star to fish within three nautical miles of these centres at any time of year.

Small pelagics are major food for key recreational species including Spanish mackerel, southern bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, marlin and kingfish.

"With recreational fishing in Australia generating an estimated $10 billion a year and creating tens of thousands of jobs, ARFF doesn't want this put at risk and there is no reason that it should be," Fishing World Magazine quotes ARFF officials as saying.

The Geelong Star killed four dolphins and two seals in its nets on its first outing in Australian waters last week.

Crab crackdown

FISHERIES officers are continuing to crack down on illegal crabbing.

DPI acting director of fisheries compliance Tony Andrews said a covert patrol near Port Macquarie recently apprehended a 40-year-old man in possession of 39 mud crabs, about eight times the daily limit.

The crabs were returned to the water alive and the man is expected to receive a summons to attend court and an application is being made for forfeiture of the seized items.

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