Letter to the Beagle Editor, Like others I was also intrigued to read that the Mayor had no concerns of senior staff over reaching their positions in regards to developing plans with apparently no consultation for the purposes of securing a grant as seems to have been the case in Batemans Bay with plans being presented that showed a concrete "labyrinth" of market stalls where the Bay Push had imagined a splash park to be located only to be told that the splash park would be at the new aquatic centre that no-one knew anything about . It reminded me of my letter to the Editor of the Narooma News last year that fell on deaf ears within Council. Council ignored the advice of the Narooma Port Committee and went ahead and did their own thing with the Narooma boat launching ramp at Apex Park. This is another example of the Council engineering staff dictating how grant monies are spent rather than listening to the people using the facility or the expert advice of a respected local committee and local charter boat owners and operators.
Seagrass before Common Sense
Most Narooma businesses rely on the annual influx of holiday makers. Many of these visitors are fishers who come here each summer to fish the Montague reefs and surrounding waters.
Given the importance of this activity to the town’s economy, why on earth would a local council modify the key boat launching ramp at Apex Park in a way that has slowed down the launching and retrieval rates, and created a safety hazard for onlookers?
I cannot repeat the unprintable comments of numerous visiting fishermen between the Xmas and New Year period who were forced to find alternative launching facilities because of the long wait at Apex Park. Apart from the time taken by less experienced boaters to negotiate the narrow eastern ramp, boats were being left on the central ramp while vehicles and trailers were being parked some distance away.
When I returned to the ramp on a strong outgoing tide, the back eddy on the western ramp slammed my boat against the pontoon. If the onlookers that were sitting on the pontoon when I launched, were still in the same position, they could have been seriously injured. A boat being retrieved from the eastern ramp was equally affected by the strong tide hitting against the central pontoon barrier.
The upgrade of the Apex ramp was proposed some years ago, and local fishers were promised a new ramp and additional mooring facilities to the east of the existing ramp. One has to ask how this proposition turned into a central pontoon that takes up valuable launching space and diminishes the effectiveness of the facility. I can only assume that Council buckled to pressure from Fisheries and the Marine Park Authority to protect the small area of seagrass that an eastern pontoon might affect.
There is 150 hectares of seagrass in Wagonga inlet that is in no danger of decline. It has been proven that this seagrass can be successfully transplanted, and its colonisation of bare sand flats has been slow but effective. Where then is the justification for wasting $350,000 of ratepayer and Fishing Trust monies to build a “white elephant” that might save a few square metres of sea grass, but creates more boating problems than it solves.
This exercise epitomises what is wrong with our Council. It goes through the motions of consulting the community but never listens; it is the bureaucrats and not elected councillors or community groups who decide what the community needs and what it gets; and the environmental considerations, no matter how insignificant or manageable, take precedence over community and common sense.
We can only hope that Council admits this latest error of judgment and works with local experts to rectify the situation before we lose our visiting ocean fishers to Bermagui and beyond.
Ian Hitchcock Dalmeny