SUCCESS: Trial oyster reefs installed in the Noosa River system have shown oyster settlement.
SUCCESS: Trial oyster reefs installed in the Noosa River system have shown oyster settlement.

Groups combine to ban Noosa River trawling

SEVEN community and environment groups have united to demand Noosa Council and other marine authorities permanently ban commercial beam trawling in the Noosa River system.

The groups - Noosa Parks Association, Noosa Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association, Noosa and District Landcare, Sunshine Coast Environment Council, Noosa Integrated Catchment Association, Friends of Lake Weyba and Friends of Kinaba - came together as one following the leaking of an interim report which revealed the population of benthic life, a lower part of the food chain for fish, crabs and prawns, had been devastated since a study 20 years ago, as reported in Noosa News last month.

Council is preparing a Noosa Fishing Futures policy paper to guide it in subsequent negotiations with the State Government.

"(Report co-author) Professor Greg Skilliter's current research establishes beyond reasonable doubt biodiversity is in serious decline in the river and lakes,” Noosa Parks project officer Bryan Walsh said.

"Commercial beam trawling drags a dredge along the bottom of the river and lakes, damaging the habitat of benthic communities, the little critters that are food for fish, crabs and prawns.”

"Rebuilding benthic biodiversity in the river and lakes system is going to take much hard work over a long period of time.''

Noosa Landcare general manager Phil Moran said following a recent group discussion it decided to join the call in principle - but wants to go further and lobby for the whole river system to be declared a marine park.

"A number of factors are causing the degradation of biodiversity in the river system,” Mr Moran said.

"A plan should based on sound scientific evidence, and needs to take a holistic approach.”

He said Noosa Landcare did not normally get heavy-handed about issues - but this was different.

"We don't go around picking fights, but this is one we need to take a stand on,” he said

Noosa Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association president Adrian Williams said his group supported the ban in principle, but may not stop there.

"We are meeting again on March 20 and will discuss in more detail what further can be done,” Mr Williams said.

He said the group supported the health of the river system through Bring Back the Fish and the oyster reef project.

"We have long been advocates of improving life in the river system,” Mr Williams said.