Big stink

The remains of fish left on and near the Iluka boat ramp.
The remains of fish left on and near the Iluka boat ramp.


WHEN George Surbey went to take tourists for a day out on the Clarence River on Wednesday, he could not believe the mass of fish skeletons and other fish waste that had been left on the Iluka boat ramp.

He found scores of trawl whiting frames, a number of river whiting skeletons, mullet heads, unidentified fish fillets and other waste strewn across the boat ramp at the old ferry approach.

Mr Surbey, an Iluka resident and member of the Clarence River Amateur Action Group, said it was not the first time he found piles of fish waste at the site, but this time he had his camera and took photos to send to authorities.

Yesterday another Iluka man was fined $750 and issued with an order to clean up the site following an investigation involving the Department of Primary Industries (formerly NSW Fisheries), the Environmental Protection Authority and the Clarence Valley Council.

The council's director of environment and planning, Rob Donges, said council rangers were informed of the incident on Wednesday morning, and after interviewing eye-witnesses, spoke with the resident and the fine was issued. He said it was estimated there was between 20-30kg of fish waste at the site.

"You can't dump rubbish in a public place," he said.

Mr Surbey said his visitors thought the mess left by the professional fisherman was abhorrent. He feared such large deposits of fish waste would attract sharks.

"I have seen kids swimming and paddling there and people jumping out of boats as they come in to moor," he said.

Clarence River Professional Fishermen's Association representative Karen Schiller said professional fishermen were disgusted at the dumping.

"This crime damages the environment, but also threatens the profile of the fishing industry," she said.

Clarence River Fishermen's Co-operative chairman George Baker said professional fishers had a healthy relationship with all river stakeholders and, like them, sought to protect the river and its environs.

"This illegal activity is unacceptable to members and the co-operative," he said.

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