Con­cerns bans could spread

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY JARED LOUGHNAN

Con­cerns are still build­ing that fur­ther wake en­hanc­ing boat­ing re­stric­tions could even­tu­ally be en­forced on other ar­eas along the Mur­ray River on top of the Bun­da­long to Corowa trial threat­en­ing tourism and jobs.

The Corowa to Ovens Junc­tion Mur­ray River Draft Ero­sion Man­age­ment Plan is set to en­force a pro­posed ban on wake en­hanc­ing boat­ing ac­tiv­i­ties on a 49km stretch be­tween Bun­da­long and Corowa for three years, with sug­ges­tions of up to five years from the mid­dle of this year.

Al­though au­thor­i­ties say there are no plans to widen the ban, RMS Prin­ci­pal Man­ager South Op­er­a­tions and Com­pli­ance Mike Ham­mond told the Rive­rina Her­ald re­cently it could even­tu­ally in­clude other ar­eas, such as Echuca-Moama, if there was a need for it.

‘‘It de­pends on the out­come of the trial. It may be dis­cussed,’’ he said.

‘‘If it is a great suc­cess, we are cer­tainly not go­ing to con­sider other re­stric­tions un­til the trial con­cludes and the out­comes are mea­sured. Then there would ob­vi­ously be a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod.

‘‘(It could be con­sid­ered) if the trial is suc­cess­ful and there are calls from the lo­cal com­mu­nity and it’s done in a rea­son­able way with the sup­port of the lo­cal com­mu­nity.’’

Ac­cord­ing to the MDBA, the trial ban is nec­es­sary to stop sig­nif­i­cant and ac­cel­er­ated ero­sion along that sec­tion of river.

It says high boat wash, par­tic­u­larly from wake­board­ing, con­trib­uted to that ero­sion and a ban, along with river­bank re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work, would im­prove the re­silience of river banks to ero­sion.

‘‘All we’re try­ing to do is cre­ate a space where high wash ac­tiv­i­ties are re­stricted for en­vi­ron­men­tal pur­poses and for the safety of other river users,’’ Mr Ham­mond said.

‘‘The wash from wake­boards (wake en­hanced boat­ing) has caused other ves­sels to cap­size. We have had com­plaints about the large wash hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on other river users who have told us that they refuse to go ca­noe­ing or take their kids swim­ming be­cause of it.

‘‘It seems rea­son­able for a part of the river to be set aside for other users. Wake­boards will still have their area to use. We’re not try­ing to ban all boats or ski­ing.

‘‘Ac­tiv­i­ties that cre­ate high wash have an im­pact on the health of the river. All we are do­ing is try­ing to see if this trial ban will make a dif­fer­ence in ero­sion.’’

In Jan­uary a packed in­for­ma­tion meet­ing at the Bun­da­long Recre­ation Re­serve hall con­ducted by Road and Mar­itime Ser­vices high­lighted why the con­cerns have grown.

Mem­ber for Ovens Val­ley Tim McCurdy said that he had read a re­port from the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity that if this river clo­sure or ban­ning of wake­board boat­ing is suc­cess­ful in this plan they will then role this out on a broader scale.

“I am con­cerned; is this, the start of some­thing big­ger? I just need some sort of as­sur­ance that this is not the start of a broader plan,” Mr McCurdy said.

RMS Gen­eral Man­ager Op­er­a­tions Pol­icy & Per­for­mance David Hunter said that it was the only plan on the ta­ble that aims to man­age ero­sion through boat­ing re­stric­tions. But went onto say; “this is the only area we have fo­cused on at the mo­ment.”

The com­ment was met with many jeers from those in at­ten­dance.

The move has shocked busi­ness and boat­ing com­mu­ni­ties in the Bun­da­long and Corowa re­gion, who claim it is un­nec­es­sary and will dec­i­mate tourism.

The Save the Boat­ing on the Mur­ray group has called for the plan to be abol­ished and will be putting in a for­mal sub­mis­sion to gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties and the NSW Mar­itime Min­is­ter Melinda Pavey high­light­ing their con­cerns about the plan.

“We will be ask­ing for the plan to be scrapped and want to work solely with RMS with­out MDBA,” com­mit­tee mem­ber Brett But­ler said.

Mr But­ler said the group felt it was nec­es­sary and be­lieve their draft ac­tiv­ity zone plan which aims at es­tab­lish­ing a more co­he­sive plan along the river tak­ing into ac­count all boat­ing users is the bet­ter way for­ward. The com­mit­tee has wel­comed sug­ges­tions and com­ments re­gard­ing the ac­tiv­ity zone plan and will drop fur­ther in­for­ma­tion to Yar­ra­wonga busi­nesses own­ers this week.

“We en­cour­age peo­ple to read the in­for­ma­tion and un­der­stand why we have made this stand and en­cour­age them to then at­tend the in­for­ma­tion ses­sion in Yar­ra­wonga next week and ask any fur­ther ques­tions of the au­thor­i­ties.

“What­ever hap­pens from here can af­fect us all,” Mr But­ler said.

The groups draft ac­tiv­ity zone plan can be viewed from the Yar­ra­wonga Chron­i­cle home page on www.yarra­won­gachron­i­

The next in­for­ma­tion meet­ing on the plan is at the Yar­ra­wonga Com­mu­nity Hall next Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 13 start­ing at 6pm.

Con­cerns are build­ing that wake en­hanc­ing boat­ing re­stric­tions could even­tu­ally be en­forced on other ar­eas along the Mur­ray River.

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