Oysters are often called the canary in the coal-mine of 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 week. The response was overwhelming with 240 oyster farmers across 4 states committing to participate in it’s inaugural year.
The initiative, dubbed ‘Tide to Tip’, has also seen oyster farmers partner with commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, indigenous groups, schools 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.
This presentation discusses the development of this industry-driven ‘Tide to Tip’ concept, and some of the outcomes from year 1 of this initiative.
Siobhan Threlfall works as a project officer at OceanWatch Australia, and has experience working on initiatives surrounding urchin management, industry best practice, estuary clean-ups, and litter prevention. She is passionate about life underwater, with a background in marine biology and ecology.