THE shire should think big, not small about its plans to improve boat launching facilities in the Inverloch area.
That’s the view of Tim Edney of Inverloch Marine who was one of 30 people to drop in at an information ‘workshop’ on the subject at the Inverloch Community Hub last Wednesday evening, July 6.
“The shire really just wanted some feedback, one-on-one, about improving Mahers Landing but the fact is boat launching facilities are woefully inadequate in this area and the local economy is suffering as a result of it in my view,” Mr Edney said.
“We haven’t got anything much between Newhaven and Port Welshpool and over time, we’ve seen a gradual decrease in the boat traffic coming into the area.
“What the area needs is a four-lane ramp, certainly something more than two lanes, and there is the potential to put in a really good facility at Mahers Landing.
“I believe there is a good case for retaining both facilities, in Inverloch and also at Mahers Landing, but both facilities need work.”
Mr Edney said shire officials unveiled three designs for improving Mahers Landing, all of them too small.
“A study needs to be done on what facilities are needed, involving Gippsland Ports and other interested groups, with an assessment made about what these facilities bring
into the area.”
Mr Edney said use of Mahers Landing was heavily tide dependent and while those who used it might generally be happy with the way it is, there was an opportunity to do something really meaningful for boat owners and also for the local economy by having a proper facility.
And it’s not as if boat owners don’t already pay for the privilege through their registration fees and boat ramp fees.
“If you can tell me what they do with the money, I’d be interested in knowing,” said Craig Edmonds of Jims Bait and Tackle in San Remo.
“To be honest with you, there are a lot of things they need to be doing down here before they go building too much anywhere else,” he said.
“More parking at the Newhaven boat ramp, dredging, a floating pontoon for launching; it really is getting very dangerous with the present fixed jetty.
“You’ve got the situation where an 80 year old might be trying to climb down a slippery ladder at low tide when he’s getting his boat in. It’s only a matter of time.
“Other things too, like a roof over the cutting table to provide some shade on the hot days so the fish doesn’t go off. These are things they have for free up in NSW.
“They seem to appreciate the contribution that boat owners make to the local economy, not just the recreational fishermen. It’s huge and I don’t think there’s a lot of appreciation given to that down here.
“You only have to come down of a weekend and see the amount of activity among fishermen, kayakers, sailors, jetskiers and all the rest. It’s huge and there’s little understanding about how important it is,” Mr Edmonds said.
Considerable amounts in State Government funding is available for improving boat ramp facilities and the shire should be thinking big not small in doing something to boost the local economy, they say.
Regular user of the Mahers Landing, Ray Smith, missed last week’s consultation session but he’s of the opinion that if the shire is going to improve the boat ramp there, they should do it properly.
“I’ve nearly lost my boat there. Whatever they do they should make it easier and safer for people to launch their boat and that could mean spending a lot rather than a little to get it right.”
The Council’s Manager Sustainable Environment, Deirdre Griepsma, was pleased with the response.
“There were 23 formal submissions made and we received a range of views regarding the current and future use needs of the facility with input from boaters, kayakers, wind surfers, Landcare, and conservationists,” Ms Griepsma said.
“The common theme of the night was that the area is loved by all.
“The next step is to formulate all submissions into a draft report, which will be circulated to stakeholder organisations for feedback, and then to interested community members and groups who were involved in the process.”
Crs Jordan Crugnale and Neil Rankine were among those who attended on a cold, wet night.
Shire opens can of worms by launching boat ramp plans