After the fires, came the heavy rain and the floods. This is when the effects of climate change really hit me.
Bateman's Bay, NSW
My name is Ewan McAsh, I am an Oyster Farmer down on the Clyde River in Batemans Bay on the South Coast of NSW.
I started farming with my dad sixteen years ago. We’ve now built up an adaptive oyster farm and a farm management system app to help other oysters and mussel farmers monitor climate conditions and plan for the future.
When I started farming, the environment was stable. There was lots of wildlife. The water was clean. There were undisturbed river catchments and natural vegetation. When there was heavy rain, the water would clean up quickly and we could harvest oysters soon after. Floods were rare, they only happened three times over ten years.
Farming now is completely different. The environment is not stable, it has been out of control for the past three years. The 2020 bushfires and floods were catastrophic for me, my family, my business and the community.
First the fires came, and they destroyed the natural river catchment, my oyster shed and threatened my home. On the day the fires came to my hometown, I was over in another town helping my friend put out fires. When I got to my farm, my fellow farmers were defending it, but the oyster shed was already up in flames. We camped at the farm for two days fighting off the fires.
After the fires, came the heavy rain and the floods. This is when the effects of climate change really hit me. We have now experienced six floods in the last eighteen months. The floods washed debris, silt and filth into the water. Without the river catchment and the natural vegetation, the heavy rain has drastically impacted the water quality and our ability to harvest oysters. We can now only harvest clean and quality oysters over a handful of weeks during a year. Before the fires and floods, we could harvest them almost every day of the year.
The wider community suffered majorly from the fires and floods. People lost their livelihoods and watched the degradation of the environment in front of them.
The fires and floods have also impacted my mental health. Six months after the fire and floods, I was still waking up anxious and worried about how I would keep my business alive and support my 15 employees.
I have now invested in technology and adaptive farming practices to respond to the risks climate change has had on my farm. I did not invest in innovative practices because I wanted to, I did it because I was forced to so my business could survive the impacts of climate change.
I’m worried about the effect of climate change for the future. We should not be responding to climate change alone. The government needs to act and support us.
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