FISHING plays a major part in tourism for the Bass Coast region – yet anglers say the area suffers from a lack of adequate fishing facilities.
At Cowes, the jetty is in a state of disrepair, with Parks Victoria last year reducing the road limit to prevent heavy vehicles from further damaging the jetty. The council is lobbying the State Government for $4.5 million to replace it.
At Coronet Bay, a once popular boat ramp managed by developers is broken and unusable.
The developers, Coastal Estates, offered to lease the land to council for $1 a year for ten years – providing authorities brought it up to scratch.
It was going to cost the shire upwards of $841,000 to fix the ramp. The council declined the offer.
Craig Edmonds of San Remo’s Jim’s Bait and Tackle said improving the facilities around the shire would encourage more people to fish.
“The jetties around here are just a disgrace and you pay for the privilege of using the rubbish,” he said, adding that boat launching fees are non-existent in New South Wales.
Anglers pay for a recreational fishing license, but many say they fail to see a return on investment.
“They need to be more transparent with the licenses and actually tell people where the money goes.
“People just think it goes into admin and nowhere. There are certain programs it goes to but they put an awful lot of time into fresh water restocking, trout and everything else,” he said, adding that trout are an introduced specie.
Craig wants to see more Australian native fish restocked.
“Trout are a bit like the old rabbits, introduced and then you can’t get rid of them.”
He said fishing and boating are almost obsolete in the 52-page Phillip Island and San Remo Visitor Economy Strategy.
The word “fishing” is mentioned once in the 20-year strategy for the region.
It does acknowledge that the growing popularity of yachting and fishing in Western Port “will increase pressure on the marine facilities”.
The solution is to commission a $100,000 study to “estimate the future marina berths, boat ramps and marine access points required to meet the forecast demand, including new marine activities and events”.
But it could be a long process securing the $100,000, followed by the time to prepare a report, then find more funding and then the time to fix the facilities.
During a visit to Cowes last week, the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford admitted there is work to be done at some boat ramps.
She pointed out there was $46 million allocated to the ‘Target One Million’ plan for recreational fishing – which includes introducing a minimum legal size for trout, delivering children’s fishing programs and increasing fish stock.
And that’s all well and good to allocate millions of dollars to fishing; the local community would accept new or improved boat ramps and jetties, but they’d also be happy with a few small improvements.
For example, Craig said, having canopies over fish cleaning tables.
“You come back to clean your fish and the table’s 110 degrees and it cooks it while you clean it,” he said.
Minister Pulford said money from fishing licences goes into a trust fund – which is all spent on supporting recreational fishing.
“People do see that good reinvestment; we’ve got tables, we’ve got programs to get more kids fishing, we’ve got grants for angling clubs, you name it.”
She said Victoria stacks up “exceptionally well” in recreational fishing compared to New South Wales.
“We’ll continue to invest in recreational fishing, we’ve seen some great results from the work that we’ve done already and we’re not planning on slowing down any time.”
The council is expected to further ramp up its advocacy efforts for a replacement of the Cowes Jetty, amongst other projects, coming up to the November State Election.