State of our estuaries is forums’ focus

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser
The bar connecting Denmark's Wilson Inlet with Ocean Beach is artificially opened.
Camera IconThe bar connecting Denmark's Wilson Inlet with Ocean Beach is artificially opened.

The health of the Wilson Inlet and Oyster Harbour will be under the microscope at next week’s Regional Estuaries Forums.

The forums, held in Denmark on October 15 and Albany on October 16, will give the community a chance to have a say about their local estuaries.

The forums will be hosted by the Wilson Inlet Catchment Committee and Oyster Harbour Catchment Group with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulations. Wilson Catchment Committee executive officer Shaun Ossinger said one of the main purposes of the forums was to inform the public about the science behind the artificial opening of the Wilson Inlet bar.

“All estuaries are very controversial at times and the Wilson Inlet is probably very high up there in that regard,” he said.

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“The main controversy of this inlet is when and where this inlet is open.

“When you open them up, the danger is the salt water that comes in it could create a barrier between the salt water and the fresh water, and then the oxygen in the atmosphere couldn’t get down to the bottom of the estuary.

“We have to be very careful about when to actually open the bar and getting that message through to people can be quite challenging.”

Department of Water and Environmental Regulation aquatic science branch manager Malcolm Robb said the forum would also look at the latest work being done to protect the local estuaries. It would also touch on the impact of climate change, specifically the region’s reduced rainfall in the past decade.

“These forums are an opportunity for the department to hear directly from the community about their concerns,” he said.

“In regards to water quality, both Oyster Harbour and Wilson Inlet are currently healthy, resilient estuaries. However, climate change and nutrients entering from the catchments are areas of concern.”

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