Following local concerns from Andrew Turner (Batemans Bay Game Fishing Club) and a number of other clubs in the Batemans Bay area a meeting was recently held with Eurobodalla Shire Council’s construction engineers at Hanging Rock Boat Ramp, Batemans Bay.
Max Castle, Vice President of the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW told The Beagle "Hanging Rock is a popular regional boat ramp, especially in peak periods. The rock wall entrance is poorly lit and can be tricky especially in windy conditions as waves and swell can occur just outside the break wall; it is not recommended for small estuary boats with low freeboard. It is mainly used by larger trailer boats owned by locals and tourists. The latter bring big dollars which support our local businesses."
Max said "Five clubs and the Boating Industry Association arranged a meeting recently with Council to gain an understanding of what upgrading was proposed at Hanging Rock, as none of the five local fishing clubs had been consulted prior to or during the design phase. Charter boat operators have confirmed they also missed out on being consulted.
"Council staff were very generous with their time to discuss the project and agreed to explore the concerns raised with the objective of making the ramp more effective, functional and safer. Council were not aware of some of the the issues raised and work may now have to be delayed over six months or so, due to funding constraints.
"Far too often projects are not being properly considered until construction has commenced. This is costly, time consuming and frustrating for all, and has been raised with Council on many occasions but continues to be the norm."
The Vice President of the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW said: "MP Andrew Constance announced funding last year for various boat ramp locations. This was greatly appreciated by the local boating community but the missing link has been in the locations selected, the scope of the work, long delivery times and very little communication with the main local stakeholders. Fishers and boat owners will certainly be pushing for these concerns to be addressed by a new Council.
"The increase in use of trailer boats since COVID-19 has been significant, some tackle stores are run off their feet and new boat orders have an extended waiting time. Recreational fishing continues to be one of Eurobodalla biggest economic drivers because of our extensive waterways. Having this recognized so stakeholders’ suggestions are taken on board has been a significant issue over many years.
Max added "This was a timely on-site meeting, as trailer-boat fishers have been discussing a proposal to jointly identify boating and fishing issues within the Shire. The initial objective will be a meeting to identify collective issues which will be discussed with the new incoming Council and to provide a single, larger community voice.
"Key issues identified to date are boating infrastructure, its provision, upgrading and maintenance." A Batemans Bay Boaters Association spokesperson has posted:
"In July 2020 the local Member Andrew Constance announced a $300,000 upgrade to this location including: Building a 30-metre long boat rigging bay, upgrading the boat wash-down area with improvements to the pavement and an additional tap, extending the southern pontoon and upgrading signage and lighting. "The Association supported this initiative because the southern pontoon is in disrepair, damaged, has piles that are a danger to people and is a trip hazard due to rotting wood decking. The lighting in the area was not fit for purpose and the fish cleaning table was a disgrace at which no person would clean their catch for human consumption.
"It has now been established the approved application for the extension to the southern pontoons has been changed and now the working and disability and Kayak friendly pontoons are to be removed and replaced by two wooden pontoons that don't meet the Standard or guidelines. Why did the Council Engineer decide to reallocate the funds to the northern pontoon and leave the southern pontoon in disrepair? "When this information surfaced the group met with Council on-site to see if we could salvage this project. It appears not. "Council is again going ahead ignoring real local knowledge and community consultation and doing what one inside group wants. Remember Mosquito Bay boat ramp light. The Batemans Bay Boaters Association spokesperson commented "The boating and fishing group clearly articulated where we want the $300,000 of our money allocated. Lighting - At the end of the pontoons, at the top of the boat ramp, at the boat preparation area and at the wash down area. Road Line Markings – this shows visitors and regulars how the traffic flow works and assists people reversing boat trailers towards the boat ramp. Cats-eyes on the ramp ridges and other appropriate places. Wash Down Area – the current “improvement” just dont work with a kerb too high for trailers, insufficient taps and inadequate lighting. Tie Down Exit Area – Currently there is no designated area so after wash down move to this area to prepare your vessel for the road and free up the wash down area. Fish Cleaning Tables – up grade the taps and surface with suitable roof and lights for this major tourist regional facility. Signage – this shows traffic flows, where to park and where to perform tasks including safety and information regarding the sanctuary zones of the local Marine Park. "Today Essential Energy contractor replaced the non-working lights in the precinct but not with the design suggested by the group and again Council does what it wants. "Do any vessel owner or fisho have further suggestion on how this boat ramp can be improved?"