Recreational fishers taking the lead on improving Richmond River’s water quality

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AFTER 50 years of problems and three years of research, plans to improve the Tuckean Swamp, the single largest contributor of poor water quality in the Richmond River, are about to be released.

The latest research has recommended limiting drainage of the floodplain’s lowest lying areas, those less than one metre above sea level, that are regularly inundated.

These low-lying areas are known to be responsible for the majority of low oxygen (blackwater) and acidic water conditions. This poor water has effectively nullified the fish and prawn habitat nursery in the area.

The next steps, will be understanding the costs and benefits of any actions and this work will commence next month.

OzFish Unlimited, Australia’s national recreational fishing conservation charity are spearheading the project, working with councils, state government agencies, indigenous groups and The Nature Conservancy to pave the way to secure the improvements.

John Larsson Chapter President of OzFish Richmond River Chapter said, “Unfortunately, changes were made throughout last century to our floodplains and former wetlands and these changes have resulted in a perennial discharge of seriously poor-quality water, often acidic and low in oxygen.”

“We are also seeing a lot of red-spot disease on the fish again, after the recent prolonged period of rainfall which saw acid and low oxygen water flowing into the river consistently. It’s a sign that the fish’s immunity to disease is very low. We also saw similar impact on our oysters,” Larsson noted.

Local OzFishers have made it their business to better understand the river, it’s history, changes and consequent impacts on our fishery and also businesses.

“We now understand the challenges and are focused on supporting the community to forge a path forward for the River. Because its current state is simply untenable,” Larsson said.

“Our Richmond River community can reimagine the wetlands we want for our river. Wetlands that were once teeming with fish and the sky dark with flocks of waterbirds only 150 years ago. We have growing momentum to improve the Tuckean Swamp, it’s time now to actively reverse the findings of the Eco Health Card report of 2015 that painted a very grim picture of this once magnificent river.”

For more about the project or to get involved, head to www.ozfish.org.au or contact 1800 431 308.

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