Water­front re­lo­ca­tion plan

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - CHAR­LIE MCKIL­LOP

ASK Lau­rie Moull what he does for a liv­ing and he’ll tell you straight.

“One day I’m a fish­er­man,” he says with a la­conic smile. “The next I’m a sales­man.”

The owner and skip­per of the wooden prawn trawler, FV Santigo, Lau­rie re­alises his vi­a­bil­ity is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to his abil­ity to sell his prod­uct di­rect to the pub­lic.

It also re­lies on him be­ing able to op­er­ate and main­tain his ves­sel as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble, some­thing he’s been able to achieve in his home port of Port Dou­glas for the past 12 years.

All that could change un­der a new vi­sion be­ing un­furled for the Water­front. The re­vised draft master­plan re­vealed last month in­volves mov­ing slip­page and other light ma­rine and in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties from their ex­ist­ing lo­ca­tion to fur­ther up Dick­son’s In­let.

Dry berths, boat ramp and recre­ational boat­ing fa­cil­i­ties also would be re­lo­cated to make way for “high-end” re­sort devel­op­ment and a water­front plaza.

Port Dou­glas Slip­ways owner Steve Stonier says the multi-mil­lion price tag of reestab­lish­ing slip­page fa­cil­i­ties would never “stack up” given the con­strained na­ture of the pro­posed new site.

“It’s so limited up there, you would only ever be able to work on six boats whereas cur­rently we fit 15 boats and can work on up to 10 of them at a time,” Mr Stonier said. “We have one of the best slip­ways along the east coast ser­vic­ing ves­sels from Port to PNG.”

If the forced re­lo­ca­tion went ahead, it would sig­nal a death knell for the slip­way and se­verely im­pact the vi­a­bil­ity of a host of an­cil­lary ser­vices such as en­gi­neer­ing works, paint­ing and blast­ing. Com­mer­cial fish­ing boats, white boats, yachts, reef char­ter and other craft would be forced to go to Cairns for re­fit and gen­eral main­te­nance.

Mr Stonier said un­cer­tainty about the Water­front’s fu­ture made it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to jus­tify the ex­pen­di­ture re­quired to main­tain the slip to safety stan­dards.

“Up­grad­ing the three cra­dles alone you wouldn’t get much change from $100,000, there are mas­sive cap­i­tal out­lays in­volved,” Mr Stonier said.

“As it is, we’re just hang­ing in there on a month by month rental ar­range­ment. I’ve had no lease for the past three years, there’s no se­cu­rity at all - I don’t know where it’s go­ing to end up.”

Iron­i­cally, he said the devel­op­ment of the master­plan had missed an op­por­tu­nity to “make a show­piece of our work­ing port”.

A 104-year-old pearl lug­ger, boats and ship­wrights were a ma­jor draw­card for vis­i­tors, he said.

“You only have to see them lin­ing up to watch the boys here work­ing on the boats us­ing all the old tools,” he said.

“It’s a tourist at­trac­tion in it­self - you’ll have none of that at the new lo­ca­tion.”

An­other com­mer­cial fisher, Sue Daven­port, agreed any ad­di­tional costs in­curred as a re­sult of the water­front rede­vel­op­ment could be the fi­nal straw for an in­dus­try al­ready crip­pled by red tape and re­stric­tions.

“The rea­son Meri­dien made a berth avail­able for com­mer­cial fish­ing boats in the first place was they saw the po­ten­tial to at­tract peo­ple to the ma­rina and when they are look- ing, they’re also spend­ing money. It doesn’t take some­one with a de­gree to work that one out.”

Mean­while, Lau­rie Moull is get­ting on with re­fit­ting his ves­sel ahead of the March 1 sea­son open­ing.

He may be one of only two lo­cal ves­sels left in the prawn fish­ery but he knows when he re­turns to port, lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike will be “queu­ing up” at the ma­rina for his freshly caught prod­uct.

“I can’t see that chang­ing,” he said. “Port has al­ways been a fish­ing vil­lage.”

“Ob­vi­ously there’s tourism but it goes up and down but fish­ing will al­ways be an im­por­tant part of the town.”

Work­ing away: Lau­rie Moull makes re­pairs to his boat at the slip­way

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