River clean-up yields big results
A CAR body, two fridges and even the kitchen sink were plucked out of the Fitzroy River yesterday, and no, this isn't leading in to a punchline.
In fact the Jolly Rogers Fishing Club, along with Maritime Safety Queensland, the Department of Fisheries and Rockhampton Regional Council, led a barge down the river and delivered the haul at the Quay St boat ramp around noon yesterday.
Neill Xxavier, the president of the fishing club, which sweeps the Fitzroy and nearby reefs for rubbish every Wednesday, said yesterday's large scale clean-up was a success.
"We do a river clean every Wednesday and the basis of it is, if we get a lot of tourists here fishing the Fitzroy, we want to provide a place they can fish and enjoy the environment,” he said.
"We want them to go home and say to their friends and family that the Fitzroy is a great place to go.”
Mr Xxavier said local feedback over the two years of river clean-ups had suggested anglers were noticing the difference in the river system.
"They tell us they haven't seen this river so clean,” he said.
"That gives us the incentive to keep going.”
Mr Xxavier said large discarded items such as car bodies posed navigational hazards to boaties on the Fitzroy because they sit just below the surface on the right tide, and are hardly visible.
The club fights an ongoing battle in its drive to keep the Fitzroy clean.
The club estimates it has collected 4.8 tonnes of plastics this year alone, and estimates up to 200kgs of fresh plastic waste enters the system every week.
"It never stops,” Mr Xxavier said.
They are figures which Councillor Tony Williams, a keen angler, said were simply not good enough.
"The Fitzroy has become a dumping ground,” he said.
He said many people in the Rockhampton probably don't realise that rubbish left on roads and in car parks eventually travels through the city's drainage systems and ends up in the river and on the reefs.
Cr Williams believes the silver bullet is educating the community about the importance of picking up after themselves.
"We really need to think about how we dispose of our waste,” he said.
"Take that extra couple of minutes to bring it home and chuck it in your wheelie-bin.”
As for the larger items plucked from the river, Cr Williams said it had simply become "easy practice” but noted a decline in large items like cars entering the river.
Councillor Neil Fisher, who was there to see the haul brought in, said Rockhampton was lucky to have a club committed to cleaning the river on a weekly basis.
He recounted the club first approaching council for assistance and was glad finally to be able to do so by supplying a truck to take the rubbish to landfill.
He echoed Cr Williams' calls for better education. "A lot of the material that you see coming out of the river actually has no cost at the landfill,” he said.