Residents lead fight to save Bay
IF BALLINA'S Shaws Bay continues to be neglected, it will completely silt up and turn into a swamp, according to long-time residents Bert Carter and Robert Spencer.
“That might sound like an exaggeration, but it's not – that's exactly what will happen,” Mr Carter said.
“Twenty years ago the mangroves weren't there.
"Now they're taking over. And the seagrass is out of control.
"The whole area is turning into an environmental disaster.”
Mr Spencer's family has been in the Ballina area for decades.
He learnt to swim in Shaws Bay and says it used to be a major drawcard for locals and tourists.
“It was the centre of the universe,” he said.
“Everyone used to go there, it was very popular. But it hasn't been looked after and now it's nowhere near as nice as it used to be.”
The two men have found an ally in Ballina Shire councillor Sharon Cadwallader, who is also passionate about Shaws Bay and said it had the potential to be the jewel in Ballina's crown.
At last month's council meeting, she put up a motion for an update on the Shaws Bay Management Plan, which was supported by the councillors.
“It's not good seeing the bay like this,” she said.
“People don't like swimming with all that seagrass – locals tell me they avoid the bay because it's getting so bad. We need to do something.”
Mr Carter agrees.
He said people were “shunning” the area – a stark contrast to Shaws Bay's heyday as a popular spot for families.
“The lagoon is a closed ecological system and has little, if any, influence on the outside estuary,” he said.
“Commonsense should prevail in the consideration of the removal of mangroves along the river wall and the control of seagrass.”
However, Dr Lyn Walker, from the Ballina Environment Society, said the seagrass was quite important and dredging Shaws Bay would “just ruin it”.
“We are not in favour of the seagrass or the mangroves being removed,” she said. “These are natural growths and they should be protected, not taken out for the convenience of swimmers.”