Wagga Wagga City Council staff congratulate OzFish Wagga Chapter volunteers on their award win.


OzFish Wagga Chapter Award

Published: 22 Nov 2019 10:48am

Wagga Wagga City Council Manager Environment and City Compliance Mark Gardiner has joined in a chorus of praise for a motley crew of recreation fishermen striving to restore the Murrumbidgee River.

Mr Gardiner is thrilled to see the OzFish Wagga Chapter, led by president Hugh Kanaley, receiving widespread recognition for the role they’ve played in restoring aquatic habitat and fish stocks, reducing rubbish and erosion and promoting sustainable fishing.

The OzFish Wagga Chapter, established in 2018, was recently recognised with the Coastal and Waterways Protection Award through the 2019 Sustainable Cities Awards, an initiative of Keep Australia Beautiful NSW.

The award is designed to acknowledge programs which actively advocate for waterways protection, encourage community participation, promote sustainable fishing, improve water quality and reduce rubbish.

“It’s fantastic to see this group recognised with such a prestigious honour,” Mr Gardiner said.

“Obviously, what the group is ultimately striving to achieve is extraordinarily admirable.

“They’re not only trying to clean-up rubbish, and encourage the community to change their negative habits, but actively improve the habitat in the river.”

Chapter president Hugh Kanaley admits he was surprised, but “extremely proud”, to see the group take out the top gong.

“It’s fantastic recognition for all of our hardworking volunteers,” Mr Kanaley said.

“Along with our seven regular volunteers, we’ve had up to 40 people participate in our two, major clean-ups.”

The OzFish Wagga Chapter garnered the attention of the Wagga Wagga Tidy Towns committee, which coordinated the group’s submission to the annual awards program.

“We should be aiming to see ourselves as good ancestors,” committee chairman John Rumens said.

“What we do today should, ideally, play a part in improving the world we live… at the very least, not make it any worse.

“The volunteers who give their time and expertise to OzFish are leading by example, showing the community how taking action can have a big impact.”

The awards submission focused on the group’s two major, volunteer-driven projects at Eunony Bridge Reserve.

“Through the course of these two, large-scale clean ups we collected between eight to nine tonnes of illegally dumped rubbish… including six burnt out cars, a few mattresses, large amounts of builders waste and a lot of general rubbish,” Mr Kanaley said.

“The really positive thing is that the reserve has, overall, remained a lot cleaner since we came in and did the work.

“You don’t see the take-away, everyday trash, like bottles, cans and wrappers. I think, because people are arriving at a clean area, they’re more motivated to keep it that way.”

Mr Gardiner said one of the OzFish initiatives coincided with the national, 2019 Clean Up Australia Day movement.

“OzFish volunteers tackled Eunony Reserve while we hosted a community site clean-up at Kohlhagens Beach reserve,” Mr Gardiner said.

“The outcomes for the community were significant, as waste at either reserve has the potential to washed further down the waterway causing more environmental issues.”

Wagga Wagga City Council General Manager Peter Thompson presented Mr Kanaley with his award inside the Council Meeting Room earlier this week.