FOR THE SAKE OF THE LAKE: Residents want health check
HAYLEY Talbot has seen more of the beauty of the Clarence River than most, solo paddling down it last year from its source to the mouth at Yamba.
But it's what she can't see anymore at the lake on her doorstep that worries her.
Ms Talbot is the face of a video on YouTube produced by environmental scientist Nick O'Brien and group Valley Watch asking for the reasons for the disappearance of the seagrass within Lake Wooloweyah to be a priority in next year's revised management plan.
"The Clarence has given me so much, and I'm so passionate about our river," Ms Talbot said.
"The lake is the lifeblood of our community, it's why we have a little village here, it's something that we all care about preserving and managing it in a sustainable way for our children's children."
In a statement, resident and ValleyWatch member Ros Woodward asked that council uses the total loss of seagrass in Lake Wooloweyah as a trigger to evaluate the health of the lake, identify the reasons behind the loss of the seagrass and assess how the loss of seagrass may impact the greater Clarence Valley area and the economy that relies upon it.
"Seagrass which used to be abundant throughout Lake Wooloweyah has declined rapidly over the last 20 years. The 1999 management plan captured seagrass throughout Lake Wooloweyah, in 2009 it showed that the seagrass had receded to the north eastern corner," she said.
"Recent inspections using boats and drones have been unable to find any seagrass. Seagrass has been referred to as the 'coastal canary', and changes to its distribution signal losses of essential ecosystem services."
It continues that seagrass is essential in keeping the Clarence River healthy and supporting the fish, prawns and crabs which have made Yamba famous.
"Seagrass provides many functions in the marine ecosystem; providing structure, nursery habitat and a food source for many marine species, acting as an enormous source of carbon sequestration, filtering nutrients and acting to structurally stabilise marine environments," she said.
"We believe if seagrass was allowed to return to the Lake Wooloweyah it would have positive environmental and economic flow on effects to the greater Clarence River region."
Clarence Valley Council environment, planning and community director, Des Schroder said people would be able to make submissions for the 2018/19 operational plan when it opens for comment in May.
"We are happy to work with the community on the plan when the time comes," he said.