Groups pressure council over Warrnambool harbour upgrade

RECREATIONAL fishing groups are vowing to step up pressure in the campaign for a multi-million-dollar harbour redevelopment. 

Lobbyists representing the boating industry and fishing groups gathered at a 60-strong meeting on Thursday night at the harbour pavilion to plan out the strategy to win government funding. 

The impassioned calls came just weeks after an ocean surge sucked a car into the ocean at the Lady Bay boat ramp.

Two groups — We Fish and the Boating Industry Association (BIA) — told the audience a state funding pot was within grasp if Warrnambool City Council applied for it. 

BIA grants liaison officer Ben Scullin said the state fund, which contains millions of dollars from boating fees and licences, was available for marine projects. 

“By the end of the year the government will have collected $105 million off boaters,” he said. 

Melbourne-based We Fish spokesman Dale McClelland urged local businesses and fishermen to lobby the council. 

“We can lobby in Melbourne but local businesses are the ones who are going to have clout with the council and your local government member,” Mr McClelland said. “All council needs to do is start the ball rolling.” 

Warrnambool City Council mayor Michael Neoh dismissed the calls as simplistic.

“Council knows of the funding streams available,” Cr Neoh said. “The state fund is available but it’s available on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

“We are going to deal with the offshore fishing club, which is an official organisation.”

Last year, the council voted to leave $6 million plans off the table until more reports came back detailing the environmental effects. 

A delegation from the offshore fishing association will front a council meeting in the coming months. 

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