A number of community members with an interest in Western Port recently did a tour of the areas to be effected by dredging. They give the Napthine Government’s proposed Port of Hastings container expansion a big thumbs down.
THE proposed expansion of the Port of Hastings threatens to decimate the future of fishing and boating in Western Port according to campaigners from the Preserve Western Port Action Group (PWP).
PWP says the Napthine Government’s proposed container port will seek to attract up to 3000 massive container ships weighing 600,000 tonne, which will result in extensive dredging being required.
“Western Port as a favourite fishing, boating and water sport haven will be torpedoed and sunk by Mr Napthine’s Port expansion,” PWP chairman Jeff Nottle said.
“Fishing will either not be allowed or will be unsafe in large tracts of the bay.
“Don’t fish anywhere near the shipping lanes with these shipping monsters churning through the bay – heaven help a recreational boat that breaks down and drifts into the shipping lane, these things do not stop.”
PWP believes famed snapper and gummy fishing marks such as the Western Channel, Lysaghts, Crawfish, Eagle Rocks, Middle Spit, Tortoise Head Bank and the area out from Tooradin are likely to be destroyed or will be off limits altogether, due to future shipping exclusion zones.
Furthermore, they say the economies of bayside towns such as San Remo, Tooradin, Warneet, Cowes and Corinella will be severely affected by the drop in numbers of people currently attracted to water sports, boating and fishing.
“We are not being given all of the facts,” Mr Nottle continued.
“The State Government’s claim that the Hastings Port is a naturally deep port is simply not true.
“These proposed container ships have a draft of up to 18 metres and with the required shipping lanes, turning, berthing and holding areas, significant dredging will be required.”
A number of groups with an interest in Western Port recently did a tour of the areas to be effected by dredging.
“We were shocked and horrified at the extent of dredging that will be undertaken,” Mr Nottle said.
PWP claims Western Port has 270km of low tide mudflats and at low tide 42 per cent of the bay is exposed mudflats with 80 per cent having a depth of less than five metres of water.
Tidal speeds can reach up to six-to-eight knots and dredging will act like a gigantic orbital sander.
Once those mud banks are disturbed, the group says, the tide will wash them back and forth twice a day and cause untold damage to tidal sea grass meadows, mudflats and the entire ecosystem.
“This will cause untold damage to the mangroves and sea grass meadows that are crucial fish habitat and we simply do not know what damage the increased tidal flow after dredging will do,” Mr Nottle said.
“Once we lose this precious fishery and ecosystem, who knows what we will be left with.”
He said the resulting increased speeds of tidal flows resulting from a change in hydrology spoil dumping, fire hosing away of mud banks, bow wave and wake washes from the massive container ships, will further increase turbidity plume and coastal erosion.
Late last month, the Minister for Ports David Hodgett announced that the Victorian Government declared the project under the Major Transport Project Facilitation Act 2009.
“The State Liberal Government has now signalled it intends to ram through the project paying lip service only to environmental concerns,” Mr Nottle concluded.
Preserve Western Port Action Group is calling for all water sport, boating and fishing enthusiasts to write to their local state MP to urge the State Government to put a stop to the project.