The blueberry industry introduced a Code of Conduct last week.
The blueberry industry introduced a Code of Conduct last week. Tobi Loftus

Blueberry code unlikely to deliver improvement, councillor says

THE launch of the Australian Blueberry Growers Association's Code of Conduct gives the community no hope of seeing improvement in farming practices.

The code's attempt to compile several documents into one has resulted in something, which is so simplistic it is useless.

Growing blueberries in a sustainable manner is a highly complex business; this industry does not need to be dumbed down, it needs to be smartened up.

These businesses need a textbook, not a pamphlet and increased scrutiny and compliance within the industry, in particular management of chemical spray drift, excessive water extraction and soil erosion.

The need for a Code of Conduct is a direct result of poor management practices by growers.

Unfortunately this new document is no help. It contains no management recommendations and no guidelines. There are important pieces of legislation completely left out, such as those around chemical use.

It's a shame the association has not come up with something more prescriptive.

The DPI has produced lots of material to help blueberry farmers manage soil and water, none of these guidelines are included.

The code has been launched within weeks of publication of a water quality report, which is damning to the industry.

Coffs Harbour City Council funded Southern Cross University to conduct an investigation into the water quality at Bucca Creek last year.

The study investigated water quality directly downstream of blueberry farms and showed a direct link between poor water quality and blueberry farms.

At a quarter of the blueberry farms sites, the nitrogen levels were 50 to 800 times higher than the recommended guidelines.

When pollution levels of anything are 800 times higher than the guideline, we are looking at an extremely serious problem.

Report recommendations included the introduction of buffer zones and management of nitrogen runoff to prevent downstream impacts including algae blooms, estuarine contamination, fisheries losses and impacts to the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

The industry is rapidly losing social licence and needs to work harder to show blueberries can be farmed in a sustainable manner.

Dr Sally Townley

 

What is the cost of public stupidity?

THERE are ample examples of drivers' driving through floodwaters, fisherman getting rescued from rock-shelves and boaties treading water being rescued mid-ocean.

There are also ample warnings from the rescue services advising to either not drive through floodwaters, not to fish in adverse conditions and wear a lifejacket.

If these people have the ability to own a boat, own the latest fishing tackle and have a boat licence, we can assume they would make the correct decision and not gamble with their own lives and the lives of the rescue services.

So the rescue services need to come together and calculate a minimum fine for each offence and also add the costs of resources to the bill payable by the person responsible for putting all lives in danger and soaking up valuable resources.

I am basing the resource costs on the Westpac rescue helicopter service that relies heavily on charitable donations...these 'donations' would certainly help their cause and others. Time to set an example.

Mark Linney

 

The future of open space on foreshores

POSITIVE feedback on the Jetty4shores project is a wonderful testament to the high value we place on having public open space.

Inviting us to suggest more ideas on future plans for "the entire foreshore precinct" is a great idea. The elephant in the room is the NSW Government. It owns the whole area.

Another cash grab by it privatising more public land is a real possibility.

Improving the foreshores gives developers an attractive backyard and car park for residential and commercial development. Whether at the old fishing club, along the Jordan Esplanade, or anywhere east of the railway line, such government privatisation of public land would be a tragic sacrifice of precious, dwindling public open space.

It should be preserved for community use and enjoyment.

Fifteen years ago the Jetty Action Group (JAG) opposed council's first plan for residential development of the foreshores. Since then, several such plans have been defeated.

We can make our views clear at ghdcoffs.mysocialpinpoint.com

Stephen J. Pratt



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