740kg of rubbish dumped at Ballina creek
JOHN Larsson was visibly confronted by the sight of rubbish dumped by Ballina's North Creek, with 740kg picked up by volunteers on Sunday.
The president of the Richmond chapter of OzFish Unlimited said it was "unbelievable" that anyone would toss their household garbage into a "significant saltmarsh."
It's only been two weeks since the volunteers of OzFish cleaned the same area, and it's only been two weeks since North Creek suffered a fish kill which saw hundreds of dead fish wash up on the bank.
The rubbish was found when a handful of OzFish volunteers headed to the creek to pick up garbage on Clean Up Australia Day.
The volunteers weighed the rubbish they collected on the day at the Ballina Shire Council waste management centre, and of the 740kg on the scales, they estimate 40kg of that had washed downstream, with the other 700kg dumped.
Mr Larsson said saltmarsh areas, like the one where the garbage was found in Ballina, were "key habitats for a diverse mix of crustaceans including prawns and crabs that make up foundation elements of the estuary's ecology."
He said it is the prawns and crabs which then are food for fish and other wildlife.
Without them, recreational anglers aren't going to have much of a catch, either.
"This (North Creek saltmarsh) is recognised as one of the most important saltmarsh areas in the lower estuarine area," Mr Larsson said.
"And it's not that far from the Ballina council waste depot.
"Why would people want to do this in a well-established habitat?"
This is the 30th year for the Clean Up Australia event founded by around-the-world sailor, the late Ian Kiernan.
Ironically, the event had its beginnings as Clean Up Sydney Harbour Day, and was motivated by the amount of rubbish Mr Kiernan had seen in the oceans of the world.
While the poor health of the Richmond River has been in the spotlight for many years, Mr Larsson said it needs everyone in the community to do their bit to try and fix the problems.
And that includes not dumping garbage by the waterways.
Meanwhile, other clean-up events were held around the region, including at Ballina's Pop Denison Park beside Shaws Bay.