THE price of using boat ramps across the Bass Coast Shire rose by up to 66 per cent on Friday.
The increase, which is the first since November 1, 2007, has seen daily boat ramp tickets increased from $6 to $10, monthly tickets increased by 60 per cent from $25 to $40 and annual tickets increased by 59 per cent from $44 to $70.
In comparison, the daily fee at boat ramps in the Mornington Peninsula Shire is $12, while an annual permit is $125.
The public and local angling clubs were not consulted nor notified about the changes, which were adopted at the April 20 council meeting.
Ticket prices are increasing through on-site ticket machines at Cowes, Inverloch, Newhaven and Rhyll and ticket selling agencies across the Shire.
The fees paid recoup some of the cost of providing the facilities to boat ramp users, including the maintenance of the boat ramp area and providing exclusive access to the parking bays.
President of the Rhyll Phillip Island Angling Club and keen fisherman, Daniel McCausland, is not against the price rise, as long as the ramps are maintained appropriately.
“I agree with the rises as long as the money is put back into the ramps, maintaining fish cleaning boards and the lights at ramps,” he said.
“It would have been nice for angling clubs and fishing people in general to be notified about the changes beforehand. No relevant parties that use the ramp were notified.
“The State Government is trying to promote fishing more through the Strong Fishing Club grants, but then the local government go and do this, which isn’t helping the people who can’t afford it.”
Council’s General Manager Sustainable Development and Growth, Allison Jones said money raised from the permits/tickets is used to improve recreational boating facilities across Bass Coast.
“A principle in the Victorian Coast Strategy 2014 is that the revenue raised from fee-based activities on coastal Crown land should be directed towards protecting, developing and maintaining the associated environment and infrastructure,” she said.
“Routine maintenance at all boat ramps includes sand and debris removal, signage, lighting, carparks, ticketing machines, general repair works to railing and steps, painting, etc.”
Major capital projects in the past one to two years at Bass Coast Council-managed boating facilities include the Anderson Road Cowes boat ramp jetty redevelopment and the user needs analysis for Mahers Landing boat ramp in Inverloch, which is currently underway.
But Ms Jones denied that the rise in prices was to cover the cost of the Anderson Road Cowes boat ramp jetty project.
“The Anderson Road Cowes boat ramp jetty redevelopment was funded through a State Government grant (Boating Safety and Facilities Program, $378,000) and Council’s Capital Works budget,” she said.
Boat ramp ticket machine issues have plagued the Rhyll Boat Ramp in recent years, with users regularly unable to purchase tickets due to faulty machines.
Ms Jones said this issue should be sorted shortly.
“Council has an agreement with a company to service the machines on an ongoing basis, which we believe will reduce the incidents of issues with the automatic ticket machines,” she said.
In a further hit to anglers’ pockets, Victorian Recreational Fishing Licences have been increased by the State Government as of July 1.
A three-day licence for $10 has replaced the two-day licence for $6.
A 28-day licence has increased 66 per cent from $12 to $20, a one-year licence has increased 42 per cent from $24.50 to $35 and a three-year licence has increased 43 per cent from $66 to $95.