Macquarie RiverWatch launched

TWO not-for-profit organisations have come together to prevent illegal fishing and dumping in the Macquarie River in central western NSW. The result is the launch of Macquarie RiverWatch a joint initiative by RiverSmart Australia Ltd and the Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association.

Macquarie RiverWatch is designed to protect the iconic waterway via an official website, 1800 number and community service announcements.

Matt Hansen, of the Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association said, ‘We decided a few months ago that more needed to be done to focus attention on issues like illegal fishing and dumping, which are spoiling the river for everyone. So the idea of adapting the successful neighbourhood watch concept for the river seemed like the direction to go. We hope people get on board so this minority of people who continue to abuse the river can get the message.’

A series of community service announcements (CSAs) will start screening on the WIN network this week and run for several weeks.

“If sponsors can be found we hope to develop more CSAs and also have them screening more often. This is about raising community awareness and encouraging them to do the right thing. As our slogan says, ‘the river is for everyone’,” said Dr Bill Phillips, CEO of RiverSmart.

The televised CSAs also feature some well known locals, with endorsements included from the mayors of Wellington, Dubbo, Narromine and Warren, plus local state member Troy Grant and Federal member, Mark Coulton.

“We’re also delighted that Fishing Australia guru, Rob Paxevanos, agreed to endorse the campaign and appear in the CSAs,” said Matt Hansen. “Having these community leaders supporting Riverwatch should tell people how seriously we’re taking these issues. It’s time to show some pride in the mighty Macquarie so that it will continue to be a great place to going fishing, camping, swimming and boating.”

Macquarie RiverWatch, modelled on a similar program in Victoria, is also about good news stories. “We’re also keen to use the 1800 number to build up a better picture of where platypus are found along the Macquarie, and, we have our fingers crossed that just maybe there are still a few Macquarie perch hiding out there somewhere. We’ve heard a few reports through the grapevine that they might not be extinct on the Macquarie – after which the species was named – so we’re calling on all anglers to try to find them,” said Dr Phillips.

Those calling 1800 RIVERWATCH (748 379) will be able to record their information, anonymously if they wish, and it will be passed on to the relevant authorities.

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