OYSTER grower David Maidment and cattle farmer John Costin have been working together to make Narooma’s estuary even more pristine.
Working side-by-side, the pair have personally constructed over 3km of fence-line along Punkally Creek on Mr Costin’s property, excluding his 150 beef cattle from accessing the waterway.
Punkally Creek is one of the main tributaries that drains into the western section of Wagonga Inlet.
By far the largest property in this sub-catchment is “Dromedary Downs”, the 600-acre, cattle-farm owned by Mr Costin and his wife, Norma.
After years of discussions with Mr Maidment, the two joined forces to undertake the collaborative project to help improve environmental conditions in the creek.
Mr Maidment said if Mr Costin who was in his late 70s could see the benefits of the project, he was hopefully other farmers in the catchment could also one day erect their own fences using available grant funding.
“This is a great step in the direction and if Mr Costin in all his age and wisdom can see the benefits, I hope others will also get involved,” Mr Maidment said.
The project was enabled with a grant provided by OceanWatch Australia and NSW Farmers Association through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program.
Grants were available to improve water quality and native vegetation in oyster producing estuaries.
OceanWatch project officer Andy Myers, who toured the project last week, said the fencing would not only enhance environmental conditions in the tributary, but would also help improve water quality in Wagonga Inlet downstream, a real benefit to the local oyster industry.
“By fencing off the creek to stock, this will provide the opportunity for native vegetation to recover,” Mr Myers said.
“This buffer zone is an important land-management tool, acting as a filter for effluent laden run-off from pastures and stabilising the creek banks against erosive flooding events.”
OceanWatch Australia is a national not-for-profit environmental organisation working to advance sustainability in the Australian seafood industry.
OceanWatch’s key activities include enhancing fish habitats and improving water quality in estuaries and coastal environments, working with industry and local communities to minimise environmental impacts and introducing industry and communities to sustainable technologies and behaviours.
Councils get $3.8M for estuary protection
The NSW Government meanwhile on Monday announced a total of $3.8 million in funding to help local councils protect and improve the State’s estuaries.
Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker said estuaries are superb natural environments that are important for the community, tourism and the economy of NSW.
“Our estuaries are treasured for their beauty and the opportunities they provide for recreation such as swimming and boating but they are also important as habitat and nursery environments for marine animals and plants,” Ms Parker said.
“They are also crucial environments for our oyster industry and help support the commercial and recreational fishing industries of NSW.
“I’m pleased to announce that the Government has allocated $1.73 million for 37 new projects and $2.1 million for ongoing projects that have completed key milestones.
“The grants come from the NSW Government’s Estuary Management Program which provides assistance to councils to protect and enhance the State’s estuaries.”
The $3.8 million funding for estuary management follows the recent announcement of $3.7 million funding made available to assist local councils to protect and enhance the State’s coastal environment.
Ms Parker said many significant new estuary management projects had been funded this year.
Eurobodalla Shire Council will receive $60,000 for environmental works in the five major estuaries in the Shire – Clyde, Tomaga, Moruya, Tuross/Coila and Wagonga estuaries.
“The project also includes an important educational component to encourage community participation and awareness.”
The funds are matched by local councils.