Rec fishers give the Bellinger River a helping hand

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OZFISH Unlimited Coffs Harbour Chapter volunteers are set to launch their boats and kayaks off Mylestom Boat ramp to habitat map the lower catchment of the Bellinger River on Saturday 12th December 2020 and are calling on others to join in.

Mapping habitat helps to not only understand a river’s capacity to maintain fish populations but it also identifies gaps in connectivity fish have to manage when swimming up or down the river to feed, breed or rest from tidal currents.

The recently established OzFish chapter is eager to get volunteers to help. Chantelle Whyte, one of the local OzFish Coffs Harbour Chapter Executives is helping organise the event.

“We had our first meeting at Sawtell RSL and a number of recreational fishers who turned up had a strong connection to the Bellinger River. These fishers know these waterways like the back of their hand and their opinion is valuable,” Whyte said.

The group will head down to Mylestom boat ramp and will use fish finders to map riparian zones, seagrasses, shellfish reefs and snags in the river.

Once the area is mapped, the OzFish volunteers will work with fisheries habitat experts within OzFish to determine areas that may lack connectivity or suitable habitat for various species.

“We have a lot of interest from recreational fishers already, which is great to see. But we can definitely do with some more. We’d encourage them to join OzFish and bring their boats, canoes, kayaks and fish finders if they have them to help us out.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded recreational fishers and to hear their thoughts about how we can restore our waterways to help improve our fishing experiences,” Whyte said.

The mapping will launch from Mylestom boat ramp on December 12 from 9am. Datasheets, training and health and safety will be provided to all involved.

OzFish says the need for fish habitat connectivity is critical and this project is funded by the NSW Government’s Environmental Trust Growing River Stewardship Project and is just another way volunteers and community partners are working towards a healthy, vibrant and more productive fishery.

For more information: www.ozfish.org.au or contact 1800 431 308.

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