OYSTER farmers are one of the commercial groups most affected by changes in the river, however this recent change was warmly welcomed.
Shoalhaven River Oysters coordinator Lyn Desoto said the industry was looking forward to a reduction in river salt levels.
“It is good news, it’s great news,” she said.
“Throughout the drought the river was saltier than the sea, which means the oysters were not thriving.
“Even at the moment the river is just over 30 parts per million and the sea is about 35 parts per million.
“When we had the drought the river was way over that, it was off the chart,” she said.
“So the oysters were struggling.”
Mrs Desoto said once the river flows increased the farmers would be able to compare the winter mortality rate to previous years.
She said while there was no known reason for the winter mortality, a lot of farmers believed salinity levels might have an impact.
“We’ve got between 30 and 50 per cent of our oysters dying in winter, and it’s usually the ones you’ve been growing for three or four years.
“Once river flows are improved this will either prove the salinity theory right or wrong,” she said.
“To have a healthy river it needs to return to some of its old ways. Mother nature had it working,” she said.
Charlie Weir from Nowra has been campaigning for more water to be let down the river for many years.
He is responsible for planting hundreds of thousands of mangroves along the riverbanks to help with the river’s health.
“It’s good news and I was very happy when I heard, but are they going to let it go for three years and then destroy it again?” he asked.
“That dam’s only got to drop a fraction and they [the SCA] will panic and take water to keep their dam full, specially if we get a drought,” he said.
Riverwatch president Patricia Mason and a group of Shoalhaven representatives met with minister Costa last week to discuss the issue.
“As far as Riverwatch is concerned we welcome the moratorium but we need an increase in environmental flows well above 200 megalitres a day which doesn’t seem to be offered at the moment,” Mrs Mason said.
“At the moment it’s 90 meg and has been since the dam was built and the SCA admitted that’s a drought regime and not enough to sustain the health of the river,” she said.