Clyde River Oyster Farmers have learnt of Eurobodalla Council's decision replace the town's boat ramp with a Youth Central Space that Council says will be a "unique youth activity space with multiple play opportunities in a colourful setting by the water" It was only at a recent meeting that the oyster farmers became aware that the boat ramp they use, Lions Park, on Clyde Street West, is proposed for permanent closure.
Many farmers use this ramp to launch their working punts. While some only use it to service their vessels and to load and unload others use the ramp to launch and retrieve their vessels as they go about working their leases up and down the coast. The oyster farmers only discovered that the ramp was to be removed when they were shown a copy of Council's draft Batemans Bay Waterfront Masterplan and Activation Strategy that clearly shows the boat ramp gone.
Above: the boat ramp used by oyster farmers, Government agencies, recreational fishers and the general public at Lions Park, on Clyde Street West is GONE. Max Castle from the Recreational Fishing Association and Harry Watson Smith of the Batemans Bay Boaters Association told The Beagle "
"Their loading bay is closely located to one the retirement home at the end of Clyde Street West. There is currently insufficient parking to cater for the home’s needs, especially on weekends, school and public holidays, which causes an additional existing impact on oyster associated vehicles and the long punt trailers. "The Foreshore Plan has removed the boat ramp with neither regard or consultation with the oyster farmers. "Instead, with little consideration of how the oyster farmers will continue to operate Council instead proposes to further open the area up to allow more tourists and local visitors to promenade along a proposed board walk to a coffee and take-away shop. "If you look at the image Council now has out for comment you will see there is no evidence of any oyster industry other than a vague reference under Point 1 Investigate options for a new future for the shed - restaurant/cafe, local tour ticket/booking outlet, interpretation point (e.g. oysters, timber milling), kayak/ bike hire etc . The beginning and end of the foreshore journey.
"The boat ramp and this section of Clyde Street West plays a role in the $4.5m per year farmgate oyster industry that Council is so fond of promoting in its tourism campaigns" "The boat ramp is well designed and well placed to provide safe entry and egress in most weather conditions, and, unlike the Punt Road boatramp opposite, does not sand up and is not as exposed to the southerly winds that pick up unannounced on the river"
"Council, in response to being questioned around the closure have suggested oyster farmers use the Hanging Rock ramp which is too far, and dangerous to travel to and unsuitable as an industrial working area." "Council has simply forgotten that there is a $4.5m oyster industry and it has as much right in seeing the boatramp retained as have the hundreds of recreational boaters who use the ramp annually due to its safety, convenience and its capacity to provide a reliable launch and retrieve point for large and small vessels alike", Max Castle said. Max said "At the recent meeting of oyster farmers they expressed concern that the Council was promoting tourism over the local oyster industry - the very reason they visit the area. The sentiment was that with the lack of a pump-out for the houseboats and now more land based tourism it is just time before they will have to close and move elsewhere." "The Oyster Farmers were promised a renovated jetty years ago by Council but to no avail. They are also disappointed Council have not had a much wider discussion with ALL the community regarding the proposed boat ramp users. The temporary closure of the southern boat ramp and the temporary opening of the northern Old Punt Road in September during the bridge construction further impedes their commercial operations." "They are not happy. How did it come to be that the boat ramp has disappeared, leaving boaters and oyster farmers scratching their heads wondering why they weren't consulted? Council engaged specialist tourism planning and urban design consultants, Inspiring Place and Complete Streets, to identify opportunities to activate the Batemans Bay Waterfront. On Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 November Council invited community members to meet with them on the Batemans Bay waterfront to talk about ideas and emerging concepts. The conducted a survey. 85 people filled in the form with 30 comment sheets.
"Based on the survey Council has determined that the boat ramp is to go. They didn't think to ask the oyster farmers directly, the houseboat owners, the fishers and all of the agencies that use the southern shore boatramp. Instead they asked 85 random people they found in the street," offered Max. "Apparently 41% of the 85 were in agreement to keep the boatramp, 26% unsure and 33% in disagreement" "Before you take these results as informed you need to see the question that was asked that saw 33% in disagreement of retaining a fully functioning industrial boatramp that services a $4.5m oyster industry and hundreds of recreational fishers each year along with providing launch facilities for multiple agencies from Maritime to Rescue and Police" said Harry Watson Smith of the Batemans Bay Boaters Association
NOTE QUESTION 8. Retain the boat ramp and trailer parking (this would prevent Youth Central but allow for 9 below) 33% of 85 people said they disagreed. 28 people. Who were these people and why are their survey answers now driving Council's removal of the boat ramp? The ramp HAS been removed in the Draft Plan and can only be reinstated if the community make submissions.
Harry added "With the increase of the height of the new bridge it is expected additional larger power boats will visit the Clyde River and there is still no pump-out facilities for such craft. The pump out facility at the Marina does not work. It is acknowledged that funds had been provided to Council some time ago for a boat pump-out system on the north shore but to-date nothing has been achieved."