Report a disgrace: river campaigners

A STATE government report has recommended against clearing the mouth of the Myall River, despite warnings it will lead to the fragile ecosystem's demise.

Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann, who campaigned to have the channel opened, said yesterday that the Myall River inter-agency task group report was a disappointment.

The Greens were also highly critical of the 37-page report and have vowed to challenge its credibility in Parliament.

The Myall River Action Group, which has spear-headed the community campaign to improve the river's health, said the report was a disgrace.

Spokesman Gordon Grainger said the group would continue its campaign.

The task group was formed early last year in response to sustained community concern about the water quality.

Holidaymakers have also been complaining about declining water quality in recent years.

Most community members believe the river's eastern or natural channel needs to be dredged to facilitate improved water flow through the river and into the lakes system.

The task group conceded it was likely that the natural channel would close without intervention such as dredging. However, it argued this would have little impact on the ecosystem's health and that the man-made western channel provided a sufficient interface with Port Stephens.

Mr Baumann said he would be discussing the report with acting Premier and Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Stoner.

"My gut feeling is if we do nothing it's only going to make matters worse," he said.

"At some stage we have to dredge."

The report's recommendations include conducting a public education campaign on the river system.

Greens MP John Kaye said the report amounted to a propaganda offensive mounted by bureaucrats who were determined to do nothing.

"It's a report that runs away from the issues of fish kill and the problems experienced by the oyster farmers in an argument about the cost to government," he said.

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