TEAMS from oyster farms in the Hastings and Camden Haven have removed rubbish from local waterways as a part of an industry initiative to keep our rivers healthy.
In the Camden Haven River alone, 400 kilograms of rubbish, 201 bottles, five tyres, 26 thongs, a drone and a queen size mattress were retrieved.
In an industry first, local farmers collaborated with Oceanwatch Australia to take part in the inaugural Tide to Tip initiative on February 20.
The local oyster farmers came together to promote cleaning up the estuary ahead of Clean Up Australia Day 2020.
Oyster farmers have an intimate knowledge of the local environment, and regularly pick up rubbish they find floating in the estuary.
So to do more to help the local community the industry scaled up its efforts to do their bit organising to meet up with other growers and target marine debris hotspots.
Local oyster farmer Brandon Armstrong organised the Camden Haven clean up and said keeping the estuary clean was something he was passionate about.
"The Tide to Tip initiative is a great thing that we are proud to be part of this year in the lead up to Clean Up Australia Day 2020," Mr Armstrong said.
"Most of the local oyster farmers came together in a great collaboration to spend a few hours cleaning debris and rubbish from the river.
"Even though this is the first year we are hoping it will happen every year to continue to promote having a clean and healthy estuary and river system."
Over the past few years the oyster industry in the Camden Haven River has grown and sold over four and a half million oysters to hungry shellfish lovers.
With 13 oyster farms perched on the banks of the river, the industry supports hundreds of jobs and is an important part of the local economy.
Hastings River oyster farmer, Dave Saunders from Holiday Coast Oysters, said the waterway is everyone's responsibility and oyster farmers see first-hand the condition of the river.
"Oysters are dependent on clean water, and everyday we are doing our part to ensure the river is cared for," he said.
"This event is a big step in the right direction to get the industry and community involved in the cleanup of the Hastings, and other rivers around Australia, while also raising the awareness of river health.
"We're very happy to be a part of it".
The Tide to Tip program is supported by OceanWatch Australia, Clean Up Australia Day, NSW Local Land Services and the NSW Landcare Program.
The NSW Landcare Program is a partnership between Local Land Services and Landcare NSW Inc. supported by the NSW Government.
Mr Armstrong added that given the recent rain, a lot more debris was found in the river but generally it was pretty clean.
"For us the cleaner the river the better the oysters but also having a clean river is important for the whole community," he said.
"We work in the river everyday and know how important having a clean river is so we are encouraging everyone to take part in Clean Up Australia Day this year.
"On March 1 we will again be out on the punts for a few hours cleaning more of the river and hope others can get involved."
The Tide to Tip program was launched on February 17 across the country with more than 250 oyster farms nationally taking part in water clean ups.
Along with simply cleaning up the rubbish participants will also do an audit of the rubbish collected.
A summary of the waste will be documented and analysed by the Australian Marine Debris Database - a program run by Tangaroa Blue Foundation.
OceanWatch Australia, organisers of the program, hopes this is the first of many large-scale clean-ups led by the seafood industry that not only provides a way for fishers and farmers to give back to the estuaries on which their livelihoods depend, but helps to ensure Australian waterways remain pristine and healthy for generations to come.
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