Oysters are often called the canary in the coal-mine for estuary health, however it is oyster farmers who are truly the eyes and ears of the waterway. Out on their punts every day, these watermen have an intimate knowledge of their local environment and are often the first to report water pollution events and upstream disturbances. With the health of the environment intimately linked with their future income, they also have a vested interest to maintain and improve estuary condition.
For many years oyster farmers have supported community groups to undertake waterway clean-ups, volunteering their equipment and knowledge for the public good. Recognising the capacity of the oyster industry to undertake estuary clean-ups, in 2019 OceanWatch put forward a proposal to mobilise as many farmers as possible to undertake clean-ups in the same fortnight. The response was overwhelming with 240 oyster farmers across 4 states committing to participate in its inaugural year.
The initiative, dubbed ‘Tide to Tip’, has seen oyster farmers partner with commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, indigenous groups, and community groups to add on-ground capacity to the clean-ups. These partnerships have also help oyster farmers to build relationships and social licence with their local community.
The 2020, and 2021 Tide to Tip events were a great success with over 22,000 kg of marine debris removed from our nations waterways. OceanWatch is keen to expand the event to involve more oyster farmers and communities across Australia for the 2022 events.
If you are interested in learning more or getting involved in the clean-ups contact firstname.lastname@example.org