Birubi Weed Debris Still Present

Sandra Ferguson first observed the weed before Christmas.
Sandra Ferguson first observed the weed before Christmas.

Mother nature has continued to dump a dense layer of weed on the shoreline of Birubi Beach in Anna Bay.

At the time of going to print, the weed still covered a tract of the beach that is popular with locals and tourists.

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Professional fishermen and marine industry experts state that the event is a natural occurrence caused by a persistent, heavy south-east swell.

The weed is adjacent to a shallow rocky reef ecosystem.

Acting Port Stephens Council general manager Mike McIntosh said that although the event was unfortunate, particularly at this time of year, Port Stephens Council needed to balance aesthetic concerns with the environment.

“Council will continue to liaise with the relevant authorities,” Mr McIntosh said.

“Whilst we appreciate it is unsightly and certainly not ideal with regard to [the weed] arriving in our peak tourist season, we’ve just got to appreciate that this is nature taking its course, and we will continue to monitor the situation,” he said.

Anna Bay resident Sandra Ferguson said the weed dumps started around 20 December 2016, with a thick carpet of weed covering the area on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day and fresh dumps into the second week of January.

“If it is a natural occurrence, why is it not covering the whole beach?” Mrs Ferguson said.

There have also been reports of a maggot infestation in the weed.

Local resident Casey Ballard said she dived into the water and felt something crawling on her skin.

Her mother, Jenn Ballard, picked up some of the weed and it “started wriggling” in her hands.

Rumours of a trawler being responsible for the debris are still circulating, but to date there has been no substantiation of trawler involvement.

Although unsightly, marine vegetation cannot be removed without a Part 7 Fisheries Management Act permit.

For suspected illegal activities such as trawler activity, people should contact their nearest Fisheries Office or the Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536.

Mr McIntosh encouraged families with children to explore some of the other family-friendly beaches in our region.

“You’ve got to respect that the environment that we live in is a beautiful environment, but sometimes it throws up incidents like this,” he said.

For residents and tourists looking for alternatives while the weed is present, consider Boat Harbour,

Shoal Bay or Nelson Bay foreshore. Fingal Bay and One Mile are also popular with families.

By Jo FINN

The carpet of debris.
The carpet of debris.

Sandra Ferguson with Max the dog surrounded by debris.
Sandra Ferguson with Max the dog surrounded by debris.

Casey Ballard and Jenn Ballard surrounded by the debris.
Casey Ballard and Jenn Ballard surrounded by the debris.

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