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Floods flatten fishing folk -

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PETER CAVE: On the north coast of New South Wales the Pacific Highway remains cut after last week's
floods and a massive cleanup is underway in the disaster area.

Our reporter Brigid Glanville has just driven down from Lismore to Kempsey.

It's not only those on the land who've been affected by the disaster. The fishing industry has also
been devastated and hundreds who make their living from fishing and harvesting shellfish are facing
ruin.

I caught up with Brigid aboard a crabbing boat on the Macleay River at Stuarts Point near Kempsey.

Brigid, it seems strange that too much water could be bad news for fishermen but it is apparently?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: It certainly is Peter. I am on the Macleay River at Stuarts Point which is about
five hours' drive north of Sydney. At the moment it's actually quite a beautiful day. I am sitting
in a fishing boat. I am surrounded by some pelicans who are not doubt coming in wanting to eat some
of the fish that are about to be thrown out in mud crab traps.

And this is the first day that fishermen along the Macleay River have really been able to get back
into the water.

In fact I am with a fisherman and he's had to borrow a boat because one of his boats was simply
washed out to sea.

Most fishermen along here, their boats were washed away in the floods, all their traps, all their
equipment. Anything that was by the river or anchored in the river has simply been washed away.

So it's meant for more than a week they've had no income and it looks like it could be that way for
quite a few weeks to come; which will of course affect consumers wanting to buy fish around the
country because from the mid-north coast and the north coast, it's such a large fish stock area of
the estuary fish that are sold in restaurants throughout capital cities.

PETER CAVE: So it is obviously not just fish; it's also shellfish and crustaceans?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: It is shellfish and crustaceans and just in that last week one fisherman was
telling me that he's lost $30,000 just in income because this time of the year is a travelling time
that the fishermen go up and down the rivers catching a range of fish from mullet to sand whiting
to blackfish, bream, a whole lot of estuary based fish.

PETER CAVE: I presume it's not just the damage from the storms but also all that mud and silt that
has been washed into the estuaries?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: It is, and a lot of the storm damage, see the fishermen out at sea, they get
affected but because they are used to storms it creates rough weather for them. But the fishermen
based on the river because everything is left here in boats and the fish try and get out of the
river system because they are wanting to get away from the flood waters that everything comes down.
So the fish stock numbers have dropped.

Also as you mention, the mud, the debris. You can see trees floating around. There are lots of
things that are washed downstream. There is a caravan, there is part of a car, there's dead
carcasses, fruit from surrounding farms, watermelons.

Everything comes into the river because this area you have to remember and even further up north is
the northern rivers. There is a number of rivers that all meet up.

PETER CAVE: Are they seeking some sort of government help?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: They would like to get government assistance and they have spoken to government
authorities about it but they are unsure yet whether or not they can get it. And the fishermen are
saying that the worst part about it is that six weeks ago they had another event like this so their
income has been severely cut and it will be weeks before it gets back to normal.

PETER CAVE: Brigid, you have just driven down from Lismore to Kempsey through the worst affected
areas. What's it been like?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Peter, a lot of the roads are still closed. In fact the Pacific Highway, the main
highway from Sydney to Brisbane, parts of that are still closed. There is just floodwaters
everywhere. As you drive on the side of the road it's mud. You can see houses on low lying areas
are still cleaning out their houses that were obviously flooded.

You see a lot of cattle that have obviously been stranded. Stock numbers are still low. Some people
are just talking about selling their stock because their pastures were so wrecked and they have
been inundated that they can't get their stock back onto it so they are talking about selling
herds.

So the whole way down the coast, it's very obvious where the floods have been and it's really only
just starting to clean up now.

PETER CAVE: Brigid Glanville speaking to us from aboard a crab fishing boat on the Macleay River.