SHOALHAVEN oyster farmers are taking extra steps to improve the environment and protect their industry with the help of funds from the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority.
Funding to help remove old tarred sticks has been provided to Crookhaven River oyster farmers Mark Newnham, John Collison and Leon Riepsamen, while additional funds have been given to the oyster farming group for mangrove foreshore rehabilitation at the sheds.
They are among 39 projects between the Shoalhaven River and Wonboyn Lake near Eden to receive $192,000 in funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country initiative.
Southern Rivers CMA chair- woman Pam Green said the grants would help oyster growers to replace old tar-coated and treated timber growing equipment with more environmentally friendly products such as recycled plastic.
“The projects will enable the removal of a large amount of old material made with toxic chemicals that can leach into the water and harm the environment,” she said.
South Coast oyster farmer Shane Buckley said the funding would also help many farmers change from old growing trays to plastic floating baskets.
“The new baskets are more efficient for our business and are better for the estuaries, as they promote seagrass recovery,” Mr Buckley said.
Other projects to be funded include toilet upgrades, restoring mangroves, installation of stock-proof fencing to prevent stock access to estuaries and revegetation along creek and river banks near oyster-producing estuaries.
“These works will not only improve water quality and sustainable aquaculture productivity, they will also enhance native vegetation and increase biodiversity conservation,” Ms Green said.
The grants are part of a larger program that has seen Southern Rivers CMA and OceanWatch Australia work with local oyster farmers to develop, review and implement environmental management systems for major South Coast estuaries.