Camp­ing un­der threat?

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

VRFish, the recre­ational fish­ing peak body rep­re­sent­ing more than 838 000 Victorian fish­ers, is con­cerned the rights of fish­ers, campers and re­gional com­mu­ni­ties could be un­der threat from a River Red Gum Parks Draft Man­age­ment Plan.

VRFish chair Robert Loats said the draft plan con­tained sev­eral con­tra­dic­tory state­ments that per­mit prac­tices such as dis­persed camp­ing and camp­fires, then fol­lowed with state­ments to re­strict them.

‘‘It goes against VRFish’s con­sul­ta­tion with Parks Vic­to­ria prior to the re­lease of the draft plan,’’ Mr Loats said.

‘‘We were as­sured that cur­rent dis­persed camp­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and camp­fire reg­u­la­tions would not be changed.’’

The draft plan pro­poses to im­ple­ment strate­gies such as the de­lin­eation of camp­ing ar­eas and forc­ing users to book a camp­site in some ar­eas.

VRFish will raise its con­cerns and seek clar­i­fi­ca­tion di­rectly with Parks Vic­to­ria be­fore fi­nal­is­ing its sub­mis­sion and com­mu­ni­cat­ing back to the fish­ing com­mu­nity.

‘‘We be­lieve the Victorian com­mu­nity has a right to en­joy camp­ing be­side a warm camp­fire, to cook a camp oven meal and en­joy the tran­quil sur­rounds of the mighty

❝The Victorian com­mu­nity has a right to en­joy camp­ing.❞ VRFISH chair Robert Loats

Mur­ray River while hav­ing a fish,’’ Mr Loats said.

He said fur­ther as­sur­ance was pro­vided that cur­rent boat­ing ac­cess op­por­tu­ni­ties would re­main and where pos­si­ble en­hanced.

‘‘In­stead, the draft plan pro­poses boat­ing re­stric­tions on sev­eral wa­ters, in­clud­ing the Ovens River and Gun­bower Creek, with­out any ex­pla­na­tion.’’

Co­bram Out­door and Dis­posal Store owner Sam Kennedy said the key is­sue was the fu­ture im­pact on the town of Co­bram.

‘‘It’s go­ing to im­pact on the free­dom of camp­ing here,’’ he said.

‘‘And it will have a big down­turn on the liveli­hood of the busi­nesses here — and also the life­style of the com­mu­nity.

‘‘It’s a very big is­sue and this first pro­gres­sion of it may not be the end of camp­ing here, but it’s cer­tainly the start of the end. ‘‘This is hap­pen­ing.’’ Other res­i­dents have also ex­pressed con­cern about the plans to re­strict ac­cess to beach and camp­ing ar­eas near Co­bram.

VRFish urges all fish­ers, campers, re­gional com­mu­ni­ties and users of Vic­to­ria’s river red gum parks to ob­tain a copy of the draft man­age­ment plan that is open for pub­lic com­ment un­til Septem­ber 30. Pub­lic sub­mis­sions are in­vited. Vic­to­ria’s river red gum parks cover more than 100 parks and re­serves and 215 000 ha along the Mur­ray, Goul­burn and Ovens rivers, ex­tend­ing from the South Aus­tralian bor­der to Wodonga.

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