Oysters get clean flush
A joint project between four dairy farmers in the Crookhaven catchment near Nowra is supporting downstream oyster growers in the protection of local waterways.
The October edition of Agriculture Today reports dairy farmers’ efforts are making a big difference to both the water quality and to oyster harvesting in the catchment.
According to Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (CMA) landscape manager, Chris Presland, mangroves are already regenerating where fencing has been constructed.
One property now has three kilometres of fencing, excluding 100 head of cattle from the catchment.
“It has long been recognised that unrestricted cattle can pollute streams and erode riverbanks,” Mr Presland said.
“On many occasions oyster growers in the Crookhaven catchment have been unable to harvest due to increased faecal coliforms, detrimental to the industry.”
According to Barry and Brian Allen from the Shoalhaven Oyster Service, a healthy local environment is critical for the harvest of healthy oysters.
The Allens say the work being carried out in the estuary compliments their shellfish quality assurance.
The dairy and oyster project became a collaboration between two seemingly unrelated industries in May 2004, when members of Shoalhaven Riverwatch, a local Landcare group, met oyster growers and Southern Rivers CMA.
“Southern Rivers CMA then met local dairy farmers, who quickly took on the challenge of improving the health of the water,” Mr Presland said.
Funding from Southern Rivers CMA through the Australian Government’s Natural Heritage Trust program and the State government has helped the dairy farmers build stock proof fencing to restrict cattle access to waterways.
Ron Graham, a local dairy farmer is very happy to be part of the project.
“It has been encouraging that dairy and oyster farmers are able to get together,” Mr Graham said.
Eventually more than 10km of stock proof fencing will be completed.
Southern Rivers CMA currently has funding from the Australian Government’s Natural Heritage Trust for on-farm projects that improve farm productivity and the health of South Coast waterways.
Some of the eligible works include fencing to exclude cattle, the provision of off-stream watering, riverbank erosion control and revegetation.
Farmers have also received financial assistance to install and upgrade effluent management systems, plant shelter belts and windbreaks, remove weeds and some cases, improve laneways.
Additional support was secured from Greencorp and Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) who provided hands on help and assisted farmers with fencing.
Contact: Southern Rivers CMA, Wollongong, (02) 4224 9700 or local CMA offices for further information about funding.
This story appears Agriculture Today.