In the evening after the Paddle on the Macleay, people gathered at the Stuarts Point Community Hall to learn more about the wetland restoration in the Lower Macleay.
During the day, while at the Golden Hole, NPWS Ranger Penny Kendall had already given a potted history of the area and the reasons behind the re-inundation. (See the previous post about the Paddle.)
In the evening, the appreciative audience listened to long term resident Lindsay Brackenbury (96) who expanded on the history of the Yarrahapinni area and the wetlands with an indigenous and non-indigenous perspective.
Rupert Milne Home, event organiser and ex-Chair of the Yarrahapinni Wetland Reserve Trust, and Penny Kendall gave a good insight into the difficult and lengthy process of negotiation by the Yarrahapinni Wetland Reserve Trust and later National Parks and Wildlife Service before tidal flow could begin. The land effected by acid sulphate soil and the water in the area responded almost instantly to the inundation with saltwater. Click here to read more about The Yarrahapinni Wetlands Story
Considering the surprising speed and extent of the recovery, they concluded that it is now necessary to address the restoration of other wetlands such as the Clybucca.
The last speaker of the day was Oyster Grower Todd Graham. He gave an excellent insight into the interrelation of the ecosystems and the effects on the oyster industry:
In May 2014 the Macleay River Oyster Farmers Environmental Management System (EMS) was launched. In the EMS the highest external risk identified was Low pH/Acid Sulphate Soil (acidic water released through disturbance or drainage of acid sulphate soils). This acidic water has changed the Clybucca Harvest Area from a highly productive area to an area that the oyster farmers rarely use. The acidic water bleaches he shells of older oyster and it will kill younger oysters by dissolving their shells.
In late January 2015 this acidic water combined with low DO in the water caused a major fish kill. Any oysters that were in the Clybucca Harvest Area had to be moved to one of the other harvest areas. The continuation of a successful oyster industry in the Macleay will depend on the restoration of the wetlands in the estuary.
The Macleay River Shellfish Quality Assurance Program formally supports the Clybucca Floodplain Rehabilitation Project which is attempting to determine the best practice management options to improve the water quality emanating from the Lower Macleay floodplain landscape. This project is being headed by the Clybucca Working Group. Click here to read about the Macleay River Oyster Farmers Environmental Management System
All the speakers agreed that the restoration of the wetlands in the Lower Macleay needs the support of the community.
SOMR is preparing a public event for early 2016. Scientists from the University of New England are going to present their latest research results in the Macleay River catchment. We also anticipate a presentation about the Clybucca Wetlands.