For the fourth consecutive year, Port Stephens oyster farmers have walked away from their racks to take part in a mass clean-up of the foreshore at Salamander Bay.
Last Wednesday a total of 48 volunteers lent their support to the mass industry-led clean-up event known as 'Tide to Tip' around the port, collecting an estimated two tonnes of rubbish.
Organised by OceanWatch, in conjunction with NSW Department of Primary Industry and Hunter Local Land Services, the day proved to be very successful despite bouts of rain.
"Out on the water every day, oyster farmers have an intimate knowledge of their local environment, and regularly collect rubbish they find floating in the estuary," said OceanWatch's Andy Myers.
"Tide to Tip 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."
The Port's oyster farmers not only volunteer their time but also their equipment to help clean-up the waterways and foreshores.
"In total, an estimated two tonnes of rubbish was collected, including more than 600 bottles (a mix of plastic and glass), and 117 thongs. We also found a broken kayak, surf-ski and recovered a sanctuary zone marker from the Port Stephens marine park which had broken free from its block."
Port Stephens has about 45 oyster farms perched on the banks of Port Stephens, the industry generates hundreds of jobs and is an important part of the local economy.
Oyster farmer Mark Salm, from XL Oysters in Port Stephens, said that after the heavy rains early last year, the 2020 event saw a large amount of debris washed into the Port's waterways.
"We had a fair amount to pick up again this year. We certainly want to do what we can to ensure the estuary is clean and healthy."
Tide to Tip now involves 21 other estuaries from across NSW, and QLD. Not only do oyster farmers clean-up the area, participants also sort, curate and count the collected rubbish.
Following the clean-up in Port Stephens last week, the industry hosted a barbecue for the hungry volunteers.
OceanWatch also assists with the organisation of waste collection and disposal, provide rubbish bags, gloves etc.
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