The hard work of Ballina fishers in the wake of the Richmond River fish kill has been recognised with special certificates presented today by Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald.

Minister Macdonald took the opportunity during a two-day tour of the North Coast to visit the Ballina Fishermen’s Co-op and thank the local fishers for their assistance during the scientific monitoring program – the survey of the River’s fish population.

“Local commercial fishers worked alongside NSW Department of Primary Industries scientists to gauge the rate at which fish stocks had recovered from January’s floods,” Mr Macdonald said.

“By engaging the commercial fishers in the monitoring program, we were able to tap into their valuable local knowledge and expertise.

“The encouraging findings of the survey revealed a river replenished with fish stocks of sea mullet, bream, dusky flathead, sand whiting and mud crabs and other important species.

“This was excellent news for Richmond River fishers and everyone who lives along the river, particularly in the town of Ballina, which was hit hard by the floods.”

Mr Macdonald said the survey involved prawn hauling, gill netting, and crab and eel trapping throughout the river with commercial fishers providing boats, sampling equipment and local expertise.

“Data collected during the survey showed that fish and crustacean stocks in the river channel upstream as far as Coraki have recovered to historically sustainable levels,” Mr Macdonald said.

“I also want to take this opportunity to commend the co-operative and consultative approach taken between fishers and my Department.

Chair of the Ballina Fishermen’s Co-operative Gary Joblin said Minister Macdonald and his department responded to the concerns of local fishermen following the January floods.

“DPI scientists did a good job and we were pleased they recognised the local knowledge and expertise of Ballina fishers,” he said.