New Noosa mayoral challenger Clare Stewart.
New Noosa mayoral challenger Clare Stewart.

Mayoral candidate fishing for oyster funding answers

NOOSA’S Bring Back the Fish oyster reef project has been rated a failure by Noosa mayoral candidate Clare Stewart who has promised a thorough investigation into funding of the scheme if she is elected.

“If I find any evidence of a neglect of due process in these monies being granted, I will pursue these matters to their fullest extent,” Ms Stewart said.

This flagship undertaking by Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation with financial backing from the Noosa Council aw 10 of the 14 artificial reefs used in the trial dumped due largely to boat strikes.

The council has committed a further $1.2 million to upscale the oyster shell reefs bound in coir bags in a bid to increase marine biodiversity.

A University of the Sunshine Coast review of the trial found first trial batch grew oysters “that will eventually develop into self-sustaining oyster reefs”.

However Ms Stewart said residents are “disgusted at the blatant and disgraceful waste of ratepayer dollars”.

“Many of those residents who have discussed this with me are of the opinion that the dead oyster shell fiasco was doomed to fail,” she said.

“People who are experienced with the live oyster and fish populations in the river will tell you that dead oyster shells are simply that … dead shells.

“They have no life and they attract no life.”

Ms Stewart said there are many examples where live oysters and fish are visible in Noosa river including most bridges and jetties.

She said oyster bags placed in the Noosa river “in a supposed attempt to bring back the fish failed drastically and so the council dumped the bags unceremoniously at the Noosa tip”.

“I’m reliably informed by many people who have been in and around the seafood industry that the absolute maximum cost of a bag, and dead oyster shells would be $500, popular opinion says probably a lot less than that,” she said.

“Residents that I have spoken with think that this is a complete waste of ratepayers’ money.

“There is a view we should not be dumping dead oyster shells from other systems into our river,” Ms Stewart said.

Under the council agreement, The Nature Conservancy will contribute $1.2 million to the project, with council adding a further $1.2 million over three years.

“This is a rare opportunity to work with the world’s most trusted conservation organisation on a major local project,” Mayor Tony Wellington said.

“Add in the $1.2 million being offered, thanks to a philanthropic donation by the Thomas Foundation, and we were faced with an offer too good to refuse. The big winner here will be the Noosa environment.

“Studies have shown that a hectare of rebuilt oyster reef will filter 2.7 billion litres of water annually, remove 166 kilograms of nutrient pollution and also produce 375 kilograms of new fish,” the mayor said.

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