Boat­ing ban on hold

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY JARED LOUGHNAN

A ban on wake en­hanc­ing boats and ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing wake­board­ing and wakesurf­ing on a 49km stretch of the Mur­ray River be­tween Bun­da­long and Corowa has been put on hold.

Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices (RMS) Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Mar­itime An­gus Mitchell said that pro­posed re­stric­tions will not be im­ple­mented un­til ev­i­dence is gath­ered in key ar­eas to es­tab­lish if there is a real need for the bans.

“Mov­ing for­ward any op­tions for change will be in­formed by com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion,” Mr Mitchell said.

“It is clear that more work needs to be done and ev­i­dence gath­ered in key ar­eas in­clud­ing ves­sel op­er­a­tions, in­ci­dents and com­pli­ance and ero­sion, to in­form the need and mer­its of any op­tions for change.”

Fol­low­ing com­mu­nity feed­back on the Draft River Mur­ray (Corowa to Ovens River) Ero­sion Man­age­ment Plan, RMS have em­pha­sised a need for fur­ther re­view of the pro­posed boat­ing man­age­ment op­tions.

“Boat­ing is a way of life for many peo­ple in this area. Roads and Mar­itime will con­tinue to work with the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity, lo­cal coun­cils, Marine Safety Vic­to­ria and other stake­hold­ers to achieve the right balance of so­cial, eco­nomic, safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Dur­ing this time, a com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tion and com­pli­ance op­er­a­tional pro­gram will be devel­oped in the re­gion with a fo­cus on safe and re­spon­si­ble use of ves­sels.”

Save Boat­ing on the Mur­ray River group spokesper­son Brett But­ler was pleased that RMS had lis­tened to the com­mu­nity and hoped they would adopt sug­ges­tions of ac­tiv­ity friendly zones sug­gested by the com­mit­tee in­stead of com­plete bans.

“I hon­estly think they did not re­alise the

ef­fects to the com­mu­nity if the pro­posed re­stric­tions were im­ple­mented,” Mr But­ler said.

“It’s great they are putting the orig­i­nal plan on hold and we are now keen as ever to work with RMS on more suit­able safety and ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams and even our idea of ac­tiv­ity zon­ings along the river.”

Lo­cal wa­ter­ski­ing pro­fes­sional and Skin Ski and Surf store owner Peter O’Neill said he wasn’t sur­prised the re­stric­tions were not car­ried through.

“There wasn’t enough ev­i­dence to sup­port their rea­son­ing.

“We can now work on more ap­pro­pri­ate ed­u­ca­tion and safety mea­sures for boaters. It’s a good out­come for the com­mu­nity,” Mr O’Neill said.

More than 300 sub­mis­sions were re­ceived dur­ing the com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion ear­lier this year af­ter the draft plan was re­leased by RMS in De­cem­ber, last year rec­om­mend­ing a trial ban on wake en­hanc­ing boats and ac­tiv­i­ties for three years, even up to five years. Pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion closed on Fe­bru­ary 28. An on­line pe­ti­tion try­ing to stop the pro­posed ban had also at­tracted over 7000 sig­na­tures dur­ing this time.

The Save Boat­ing on the Mur­ray River group, which started the on­line pe­ti­tion that was sent to NSW Mar­itime Min­is­ter Melinda Pavey and var­i­ous lo­cal state and fed­eral politi­cians, aimed to shift the is­sue from ero­sion to im­prov­ing and ed­u­cat­ing boat users on safety and eti­quette on the wa­ter.

Con­cerns were raised by the group, res­i­dents and lo­cal busi­ness own­ers about the draft plan’s lack of di­rect sci­en­tific ev­i­dence on ero­sion caused from boat­ing in the area and the plan’s fail­ure to ad­dress so­cio-eco­nomic im­pacts from the pro­posed ban. Con­cerns were also raised that fur­ther wake en­hanc­ing re­stric­tions could even­tu­ally be en­forced on the other ar­eas along the Mur­ray River.

Roads and Mar­itime Prin­ci­pal Man­ager South­ern Mar­itime, Michael Ham­mond, said af­ter the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod there were a range of topics raised in the sub­mis­sions re­ceived.

“The main topics raised re­lated to busi­ness and the lo­cal econ­omy, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns and out­comes and safety and amenity is­sues,” Mr Ham­mond said.

“We want to get this right, and con­sider all the de­tails and feed­back pro­vided, so it’s im­por­tant not to rush this part of the process.

“As I said at the Corowa meet­ing, when the re­port has been fully drafted, the next step will be to have the stake­holder rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the River Mur­ray Pro­ject Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee re­view and con­sider the dif­fer­ent views, in­for­ma­tion, data and pro­pos­als.

“The com­mit­tee will then ad­vise the MDBA and Roads and Mar­itime of any pos­si­ble changes and make rec­om­men­da­tions in­flu­enc­ing the cur­rent draft plan.

“Rec­om­men­da­tions will then be con­sid­ered for im­ple­men­ta­tion by Roads and Mar­itime and the NSW Min­is­ter for Roads and Mar­itime and Freight, Melinda Pavey.”

It was orig­i­nally ex­pected that the fi­nal plan was to be fi­nalised and im­ple­mented by June/ July this year.

While fur­ther work is be­ing done, the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity will con­tinue to gather ap­pro­pri­ate data re­lated to the River Mur­ray be­tween Corowa and the Ovens River junc­tion.

The Draft Mur­ray River Ero­sion Man­age­ment Plan that rec­om­mended a trial ban on wake en­hanc­ing boats and ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing wake­board­ing and wakesurf­ing on a 49km stretch of the Mur­ray River be­tween Bun­da­long and Corowa for three years, even up to five years is not be­ing im­ple­mented.

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