Locals work toward more fish in the Southern Downs

September 4, 2019

OzFish Unlimited, a national charity protecting and improving Australia’s fishing and fish habitat has launched its newest chapter today in Warwick, South East Queensland.

Chief Executive Officer and OzFish Unlimited founder, Craig Copeland, said the formation of the chapter was a great example of local people working together to help their local rivers.

“You don’t need to have any knowledge of fish habitat rehabilitation to get involved sometimes it’s simply people with energy, a passion for the environment and time that goes a long way,” Mr Copeland said.

“We know that by improving the quality and extent of habitat, fish will thrive.

“We see this as a positive step for the local fish habitat. It’s been exciting to see locals get involved as activating local communities is part of what we do.

“Your local OzFish Chapter is the place to get involved in local fish habitat restoration projects in such as re-snagging, riverbank planting or anything that will ultimately improve your fish habitat.

“I encourage local residents who would like to volunteer in fish habitat rehabilitation to connect with the Warwick OzFish Chapter either as a volunteer or a member.”

Long-time Warwick resident Ed Kemp is the new chapter’s President and the group’s second project is aimed at improving the Murray Cod breeding habitat in the Leslie Dam.

Murray Cod is one of Australia’s most important recreational fish and more habitat in the Dam will increase productivity in the Dam. 

The Warwick chapter is the 30th across the country and has also set its sights on improving the habitat for Murray Cod and other native fish species in the Upper Condamine catchment.

For more information go to ozfish.org.au, become a member and get connected to your local chapter or contribute to this great work in your local BCF store. More information on the local chapter can be found at: www.facebook.com/OzFishWarwick

OzFish lend a hand at Tree Planting Day

OzFish Unlimited were thrilled to support Mulgrave Landcare and Catchment Group’s tree planting event over the weekend.

The day was a huge success, with 1500 trees planted by 52 volunteers to protect the banks of McDonnell Creek from erosion, and improve water quality entering the Fig Tree Lagoons and Mulgrave River, FNQ.

The event was well attended, with representation from Traditional Landowners, Landholders, local family groups and school children from 4 local schools, all lending a hand on the day. A big thanks to our Major Partner BCF- Boating, Camping, Fishing who also supported the day, gifting lucky winners with rods, eskies and chairs.

Well done to the organisers on such a successful event!

Want to know more about the project? Visit Mulgrave Landcare and Catchment Group’s facebook page at facebook.com/mulgravelandcare

Want to get involved? Jump over to our Membership page to join your local chapter today!

In the News: OzFish and Landcare NSW launch new Partnership

OzFish Unlimited and Landcare NSW are joining forces to drive collaboration across New South Wales that will empower local community members to improve Australia’s land and water habitats.

Focusing on on-the-ground works to improve the health of fish habitats in their local rivers, the project partnership will enable OzFish chapters and local Landcare groups to work together to deliver river restoration projects.

Landcare NSW CEO, Dr Adrian Zammit, said the partnership will provide additional support for Landcare groups to continue their work with river catchments and waterways across NSW and collaborate with local OzFish chapters to improve their local aquatic habitats.

OzFish Unlimited and Landcare NSW Local and State representatives at the launch of the partnership in Dubbo

“We are thrilled to be partnering with OzFish to support the important work both organisations are doing to improve the health and sustainability of our most precious resource, water,” Dr Zammit said.

Director of Habitat Programs for OzFish, Cassie Price, said the project partnership will harness the power of the two grassroots, community led, organisations to develop programs that would improve the health of local river systems and fish habitats.

“Community Non-Government Organisations such as OzFish and Landcare NSW working together is incredibly powerful. Through this partnership we will be able to work across the scope of our expertise in land and water to greatly benefit the environment across the different landscapes of NSW. Not only will that benefit fish, but as importantly, whole towns and communities.

Cassie Price, Director of Habitat OzFish Unlimited and Dr Adrian Zammit, CEO Landcare NSW in Dubbo

“Native fish in parts of the Murray Darling Basin will soon have more areas to rest, shelter and breed and the landscapes along our waterways will continue to improve with our united efforts,” said Ms Price.

OzFish Unlimited and Landcare NSW Project Partnership is funded by the Department of Primary Industries and BCF – Boating, Camping and Fishing.

Shimano Scholarship winner announced with the JIME Cadets Program

Anthony Guy has been selected as this year’s Shimano Scholarship winner with the Junior Indigenous Marine and Environmental (JIME) Cadets Program.

The Shimano scholarships are intended to provide needed financial assistance to future leaders in conservation, fisheries and wildlife sciences and management. The scholarship also supports young anglers to learn about fishing tackle and techniques, provides industry networking opportunities at Shimano events and stresses the role anglers have in fishing conservation and advocacy.

For winner Anthony Guy, the once in a lifetime opportunity included a trip to the USA and Canada, with JIME CEO, Jason Ryan.

Shimano Scholarship Winner Anthony Guy, pictured with JIME CEO, Jason Ryan.

The pair attended the ICAST Trade show in Florida, followed up by a trip to British Columbia to fish with Fred’s Helmer’s Custom Tackle and guide, Brody Mansell. After just one hour on Fraser river, South-East of Vancouver, Anthony landed this 250 lb, 7 foot sturgeon.

Congratulations Anthony!

About the JIME Program

OzFish and our Major Partner BCF are proud to support the Junior Indigenous Marine and Environmental Cadet Program (JIME), which offers students industry-related employment while still at Secondary School.

It is the Junior Guide Program that has grabbed the attention of the students, as it proposes not only a viable future but also a future that is invested in the culture and traditions of their peoples.

Currently, 20 students participate in work and training programs across the Tiwi Islands and Cairns, with further expansion of the program Nationally expected in 2020.

You can read more about the JIME Program by visiting their website

Hitting The Refresh Button On Moreton Bay

Moreton Bay is a unique part of the world made famous for the bugs that carry its namesake. It should be a breadbasket of aquatic life fed by the warm Queensland currents. Instead, this unique stretch of coast has been ravaged by almost a hundred years of mining and poor water quality for which little environmental reparations have ever been made. What’s left is a coastal stretch that may look Instagram-worthy if you fly over it when leaving Brisbane, but when you get up close and personal it’s in a bad state. This is what the OzFish Unlimited Moreton Bay Chapter is working to remedy with its innovative shellfish habitat initiative.

The Inception Point

OzFish Moreton Bay
Robbie Porter, OzFish Moreton Bay Chapter President

Leading the charge in this rehabilitation ascendency is OzFish Moreton BayChapter President, Robbie Porter, who grew up exploring and fishing the waterways of Moreton Bay. “Over the years I’d noticed how parts of the Bay are muddy and lifeless,” says Porter. “I always wondered why it had deteriorated so much then I researched the role shellfish play in water filtration and habitat. Without them the fish habitat and water quality will never be optimised and this dramatically affects fish stocks. I’d heard about other reef restoration projects around the world, mostly in America, and found out there were some happening in Queensland, but it’s become my goal to make this the biggest on the planet. Our goal is that in 10 years we will restore 100 hectares of Shellfish Reef and beyond that stretching many hundreds of hectares more.” Not only will that kind of restoration improve the water quality, but it will rejuvenate the aquatic life and return the Bay back to its former glory.

The Big Picture

National not-for-profit organisation OzFish Unlimited is partnered with leading retailer BCF, as part of its ‘Give Back to Habitat’ initiative to help projects like this in Moreton Bay. The opening of the Moreton Bay Shellfish Recycling Centre is just one part of the journey to restore Australia’s waterways to a healthy environment for aquatic life. Clean waterways and healthy habitats are vital for the sustainability of water related activities loved by Aussies, including recreational fishers. Placing used oyster shells after they have been sterilised by the recycling process, in the waterways is scientifically proven to encourage live oysters to return to the area, which has the knock-on benefit of growing fish populations. An adult oyster can filter between four and five litres of water every hour, meaning the restoration of shellfish reefs by OzFish will quickly make a demonstrable difference to the area’s water quality and fish populations. “What we’re doing here in Moreton Bay, which is just the start of a nationwide campaign, would not be possible without the dedication and support of our hardworking volunteers and partner organisations. I’d particularly like to thank BCF for their support and the national presence they give us.” said Mr Copeland OzFish CEO and founder.

Shells in Action

The OzFish Moreton Bay Chapter currently has 70 cubic meters of oyster shells drying and sterilising in the sun, but that’s only a portion of the raw materials they need to get the project up to full capacity. “Currently we’re only collecting a quarter of the shells from the oyster shucking industry and only 1% of the shells from restaurants and seafood business in the Brisbane area,” explains Porter. “It’s a matter of time and money because shells need to be regularly collected. The task is environmentally important because we are using the shells to create reefs instead of having them end up in landfill. We’re working on establishing a deal with the Eat Street Markets and hope to get the funding to employ someone full time to collect the shells which needs to happen every 2-3 days or they begin to stink.” Once these shells are sterilised in the sun they are placed into bags and will then be used to recreate the reefs we’ve lost.

Test Sites

Moreton Bay is a Marine Park so OzFish is working with the Queensland Government to ensure its proposals do not harm the Bays existing values. OzFish Moreton Bay has already placed a test site outside the Park. “We placed a shellfish reef into a stretch of the Bay and found that there were an enormous populations of crabs, shrimp, bream, perch and mullet surrounding them,” says Porter. “The water was still muddy as it takes a while for new oysters to establish themselves, but it is positive to see new life where there was previously none.” They are aiming to create trial sites with an initial coverage of 13 tidal reefs and four subtidal reefs using the oyster shells nobody seems to want. It’s a pioneering initiative that will see new aquatic life and clearer water returned to the once glorious Moreton Bay area

How You Can Help

  1. Get the word out

Please share this story across your social platforms and put the idea in front of council and state members as we are getting some resistance against our conservation efforts.

  1. Volunteer and become a member

Contact Robbie Porter with a view for putting your name down to help. You can do this by becoming a member of the OzFish Moreton Bay Chapter online at ozfish.org.au/membership where you can support our work as a volunteer. Help with shell collection, bagging and other fish habitat projects is always welcome.

  1. Enter the Wynnum Fishing Classic (3-6th May)

Details are on the OzFish site www.ozfishmoretonbay.org and all proceeds will be devoted to the rehabilitation of the reef by way of buying bags to place the oyster shells into. There are raffles and plenty of prizes to be won to you won’t go home empty handed.

  1. Eat your fill of oysters

Specifically you should eat as many oysters as you can at the Wynnum Manly Seafood Festival (6th May) in George Clayton Park. All of the shells will be reused for the restoration project.

Donate to OzFish

Donations can be made via our website at ozfish.org.au or in-store at any BCF across the country through the ‘Give Back to Habitat’ Initiative.