Tide to Tip

Oyster industry led waterway cleanups

Tide to Tip

Oyster industry led waterway cleanups

Capacity to Deliver -


The issue

Oyster farmers are stewards of the waterways, out on their punts daily, these water men and water women have an intimate knowledge of their local environment and are often the first to report water pollution events and upstream disturbances. With the health of the environment intimately linked with their future income, they also have a vested interest in maintaining and improving estuary conditions. With frequent flooding exacerbated by climate change, a lot of debris can end up washed up in the mangroves, and occasionally oyster gear washes out to sea. This can lead to tensions with the local community and public complaints and ultimately undermines the trust in primary industries.

The solution

Tide to Tip estuary clean-ups, led by the oyster industry and facilitated by OceanWatch, now running in its fifth year, and had back-to-back success. Commonly known as “Tide to Tip”, this annual program has seen the removal of 47.5 tonnes of rubbish from our estuaries and waterways across the state. A total of 86 clean-ups with close to 1000 volunteers and numerous partner organisations have since taken place. These clean-ups differ from regular beach cleans in that they go to often inaccessible places within mangroves and islands by utilising oyster punts for transport and local knowledge of rubbish aggregation points from oyster farmers. Addressing the impacts of pollution, these clean-ups not only contribute to the health of our waterways, but also help build social license, increase the capacity of marine stewardship, citizen science, and monitoring, foster networks and connections between industry and community, and increase ocean literacy and community awareness of marine litter and oyster farming more generally. To spread the message about Tide to Tip and the great work oyster farmers are doing collectively to help keep our waterways rubbish free, we have created a short promo video which we have broadcast through our YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

The impact

The estuary clean-ups in February 2024 saw clean-ups in 15 estuaries with 121 volunteers engaged in over 360 volunteer hours and collectively removed 6 tonnes of waste from the estuaries. Working in partnership with Clean-Up Australia Day and local councils, OceanWatch and the Local Landcare Coordinator assist with the organisation of waste collection & disposal, coordinate time and dates of clean ups with local oyster farmers and provide clean-up safety gear, while local oyster growers lead the on-ground work by appointing a local coordinator for their estuary, who is responsible for gaining support (volunteers) for the event, provide their punts to get to the locations, and chose the area that needs most attention, as well as giving their time to the clean-up. After the clean-up we also take the time to sort and count the rubbish and enter it on the Australian Marine Debris database run by Tangaroa Blue. Some clean-ups end in a social barbeque, giving farmers the chance to catch up, have a break, and discuss local issues in their estuary. The estuary clean-ups have been featured in numerous newspaper articles and radio interviews.

Key facts

  • 15 estuary clean-ups led by the oyster industry involving 121 volunteers
  • Removal of 6 tonnes of rubbish from NSW waterways
  • Estuary clean-ups provide an opportunity to build community trust in the oyster industry and establish new partnerships
  • Increase the capacity for marine stewardship, citizen science, and monitoring of waterways

Project Partners