Bay dredging could counter Port Fairy beach erosion

DREDGING Port Fairy bay appears to be the best option to save East Beach but plans to relocate the sand to the shore could be years away. 

Moyne Shire flagged the idea late last year but needs a range of studies to ensure neither marine life nor the bay’s sunken shipwrecks will be disturbed by any dredging. 

Environment manager Robert Gibson said the $2 million proposal was the best option “so far”. 

“It’s on the table and it’s still an option,” Mr Gibson said. 

“We’ve met with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries. There’s an extensive approval process and we’re working through it. There’s a lot to consider, we don’t want to cause any unnecessary damage.” 

Moyne Shire may also have to pay for marine archaeologists to examine any impact on shipwrecks in the bay.  The popular tourist beach, which receives thousands of people over summer, needs about 100,000 cubic metres of sand to ward off the threat of erosion. 

It would need to be topped up with an extra 10,000 cubic metres annually — possibly from the regular dredging of the Moyne River. 

Port Fairy’s Community Coastal Challenge Working Group has spent the past 12 months carefully monitoring sand levels and has made some unsettling observations. 

Chairman Nick Abbott said while the most popular stretch of beach near the surf club had increased sand levels, dunes near the old tip site had been battered by waves since March. 

“We’ve lost three metres on a 10-metre high sand dune in the last year. There’s been a substantial amount of erosion,” Mr Abbott said.

He voiced hope the dredging could save sections of the beach. “We’d certainly be in favour of that,” he said. 

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