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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Matthew Kelly

Transport Minister urged to intervene in Myall River catastrophe

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington will meet with Transport Minister Jo Haylen this week to discuss options to urgently address the rapid deterioration of the Myall River and surrounding environment.

While the river's inability to effectively flush due to the build up of sand has been an ongoing issue, the situation has become significantly worse in the past 18 months.

It is likely that the river's natural entrance and the navigational channel will become impassable to all but the smallest vessels in coming months.

Clogged entrance of the Myall River. Picture by John Grainger.

In addition, plummeting salinity levels are wreaking havoc with marine life, oyster growers and mangroves.

There are also concerns that sedimentation will pose a serious threat to the safety of hundreds of small craft that use the waterway during the holidays.

Residents who have been campaigning for years to have the river entrance dredged have been frustrated as waterways in Forster, Lake Macquarie and Ettalong have received funding for dredging in recent times.

Ms Washington said she was appreciative of the community's efforts to find solutions to the estuary's problems.

"The members of the Myall River Action Group have been longstanding and effective advocates for the health of the Myall River. It was really good to meet with some members recently to discuss the current status of the sand shoaling," she said.

"My discussion with Myall River Action Group follows on from another meeting I attended in late August, hosted by the Hawks Nest Tea Gardens Progress Association, where concerns about the river's health were also shared with me."

Myall River Action Group members Mike Ferris (left), Paul Bendy (centre) and Gordon Grainger measure the water salinity. Picture by Jonathan Carroll.

She said a recent hydrographic study had confirmed residents' concerns, that significant shoaling has occurred in the designated navigation channel of the lower Myall River, as well the channel known as "the Short cut".

"Armed with the information I've gained from my meetings with the Myall River Action Group, the Hawks Nest Tea Gardens Progress Association and the recent hydrographic study, I will now be meeting with the Minister for Transport this week seeking solutions to our local challenges," Ms Washington said.

"As residents are well aware, the issues are complex and solutions are costly, but I appreciate the importance of action, so I'll keep the community advised of progress."

The Newcastle Herald recently revealed that dingoes that are gaining easy access Corrie Island - an internationally recognised nature reserve due to sedimentation in the natural channel.

The 164-hectare nature reserve is listed under the Ramsar Convention because it is an important breeding site for Little Terns and Pied Oystercatchers, both of which are endangered species.

Dingos have been regularly spotted on the island in recent months, triggering fears for the welfare of the island's inhabitants.

While they are naturally strong swimmers, the native dogs have been able to stroll across from Hawks Nest at low tide.

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