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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Call to fast-track Warrnambool harbour studies

FISHERMEN have urged Warrnambool City Council to streamline investigations into a proposed multi-million-dollar upgrade of Lady Bay harbour boating facilities.
In a united deputation to councillors on Monday night, local and metropolitan-based fishing groups again highlighted estimated economic spin-offs of up to $16 million in the first year if the harbour was improved.

They called for studies into any environmental effects and economic impacts to run in a similar timeframe to new 12-month research into wave patterns.

After months of tension between the fishing lobby and council over the contentious issue, mayor Michael Neoh yesterday told The Standard said it was pleasing to see solidarity in the sector.

“The fishing groups realise there need to be more studies done,” he said. “Council will look at all projects as part of the budget process and setting of priorities.

“We need realistic timeframes and certainly don’t want to be squirrelling away money for projects that are not ready to proceed.”

We Fish group spokesman Dale McClelland said if all necessary studies were undertaken simultaneously there would be more chance of being able to apply for key construction money sooner rather than later.

“It is far better to have these other studies done with the wave research, not afterwards,” he said.

“I gave a presentation to the council on how we could assist with securing government funding.

“There is a $20m boating infrastructure fund that hasn’t been fully used up yet.”

Last year two marina options of about $6m each were put out for public comment and the council decided to seek more information.

Mr McClelland accompanied Neville Dance, Bruce Ludeman, Andrew Body and Lucas Wilson of the Warrnambool Offshore and Light Game Fishing Club to the closed-door council meeting this week
“I think the council was positive towards us and realises the benefits of better boating facilities would be for the whole community and not just for fishers,” Mr McClelland.

He said the annual influx of boaters chasing southern bluefin tuna was starting and by the March long weekend there would be hundreds of visitors to the coastline between Warrnambool and Port Macdonnell.

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