FAILING HEALTH: Bede Bright will not operate the Myall Lakes sewage collection vessel past New Year’s Eve. – Picture by Ryan OslandUP to 200 boat owners holidaying on the Myall Lakes will be left without a sewage collection service from next week.

Local identity Bede Bright and his wife Jacqui have operated the collection vessel Independence since 1986.

Failing health prompted Mr Bright, 70, to begin negotiations with NSW Roads and Maritime for the transfer of his licence in August.

The new prospective owner was ready to continue the business under the same contract with no disruption to the service. The talks broke down last week without any prospect of a new service in the foreseeable future.

The 70-year-old, who has terminal lung cancer, said his poor health would prevent him operating the vessel beyond New Year’s Eve.

‘‘The last correspondence I had from them [the Department of Roads and Maritime] was on December 22, the same day I got the news my cancer was terminal,’’ Mr Bright said.

‘‘They had previously offered a contract and my solicitor had written back to say we would like to change certain things. They just replied and said it was noted and disagreed.’’

Mr Bright said he regretted leaving between 150 to 200 boats without a sewage collection service, but he had been left with no option.

‘‘It’s left me terribly disappointed because I’ve always had such a terrific association with Maritime,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel a bit cheated actually.’’

The prospect of raw sewage entering the lakes system has also raised alarm among locals who are already concerned about poor water quality in the estuary.

A spokesman for Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay said negotiations with Mr Bright were ongoing.

‘‘Roads and Maritime Services is currently negotiating with Mr Bright over a new contract that will allow him to sell the business if he wishes,’’ he said.