Grandchildren grow up and, as sure as night follows day, they will want to fish.
Fishing means licences for grandparents, and a recreational fishing licence comes with a warning if you are fishing in Sydney Harbour.Years and years of industrial activities around this beautiful harbour have led to industrial wastes contaminating the water. The result is that fish and other seafood caught west of Sydney Harbour Bridge should not be eaten because of their contamination byindustrial chemicals called dioxins.
A Claytons fishing trip – a welcome relief to the grandparent who really does not like scaling, cleaning and cooking fish – but a stern reminder to us all that we are leaving a contaminated world for our grandchildren. It’s aslightly better story if you fish east of the bridge. Depending on the species of fish you catch, your limit for eating per month will range from 50grams for sea mullet to 150grams for bream and tailor to over a kilogram for flounder. But don’t ask the fish if it has crossed under the bridge!
Sharon Bader’s book Toxic Fish and Sewer Surfing published in 1989 set down in print the facts that were all too apparent to the swimmers and surfers of the day: that the beaches had become open sewers. She detailed how megalitres of almost raw sewage mixed with toxic industrial waste were being dumped daily into the sea off Sydney right next to the iconic beaches of Bondi and Manly, fouling bathing waters and contaminating fish.
The intervening decades have led to a dramatic improvement in our ocean waters, but, even today, we are warned to avoid swimming for at least one day after heavy rain at ocean beaches, and at least three days at harbour beaches. It’s our legacy to our grandchildren and their children.
Professor Tim Roberts is the director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, University of Newcastle