An oyster grower says the Eurobodalla Shire Council’s proposed Rural Lands Strategy puts the region’s industry at risk.
At the Tuesday, June 12, meeting, oyster grower Kevin McAsh added his voice to the concerns of environment groups.
“The Clyde River has suffered siltation in the past from land clearing,” Mr McAsh said.
“One harvest area was closed for two weeks because a property owner cleared a steep block. We’re not going to get support from external agencies – we need the council’s support.”
Mr McAsh said the pristine waterways of the Eurobodalla made it possible to harvest oysters directly, which was impossible in more developed areas, such as Brisbane.
“I was in Brisbane last week, and their water quality has been badly affected by development,” he said.
“They don’t have direct harvest like we do – they have to treat oysters, which is very expensive. Oyster farmers up there have lost the will to live. Do we want that here?”
Mr McAsh said the strategy wouldn’t just hurt jobs in the oyster industry – it would hurt tourism.
“On Monday I hosted an international film crew of 12 from Hong Kong,” he said.
“They have seven million viewers, and they were delighted with the quality of the oysters, and the unspoilt nature of the river. We have beautiful, productive rivers which attract tourists because they are unspoilt. This will jeopardise that.”
Councillor Rob Pollock said the council had, in the past, tried to protect oyster leases.
“Restrictions have been put on development applications in the area – are you confident these have been adequate, and would apply to any future development?” Cr Pollock asked.
“We went to great detail to protect those areas.”
Mr McAsh said the risk was still high – just one failed water quality test could close a hatchery.
“In my experience, the clearing of a steeply sloping area in North Batemans Bay closed a hatchery,” Mr McAsh said. “These are my experiences, and my concerns.”