CONGESTION around Portland Harbour is expected to be eased following the official opening of the city’s new boat ramp area.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was undertaken by Premier Denis Napthine on Friday, capping off the $7 million harbour upgrade which has been rolled out over the past three years.
The four-lane boat ramp represented the final part of the foreshore facelift which also included a 70-berth marina, new access road and improved car parking.
Dr Napthine hailed the harbour redevelopment as a “great day for Portland” and claimed the new ramps would help to deal with increased patronage from anglers outside the district.
“There’s been enormous growth in recreational fishing, which has been great for Portland, but the facilities haven’t kept pace until now,” he said.
“People were lining up at three and four o’clock in the morning to access the ramp and get ahead of the crowd.
“By mid-morning, this whole harbour area was completely blocked with cars and boats.” The boat ramp will be able to handle 300 boats a day during peak fishing season with several sparkling-new cleaning tables located close by.
Glenelg Shire mayor John Northcott said the harbour redevelopment had not only improved the area on a practical level but also aesthetically.
“The whole area was looking a bit tired,” he said. “The difference before and after the redevelopment is impressive. You can clearly see the change.”
Recreational anglers gathered with mayors, council officials and other interested parties to hear the Premier’s address at a marquee adjacent to the boat ramps on Friday.
Demand for the upgrade has been largely driven by the rise in recreational anglers seeking bluefin tuna, according to Cr Northcott.
He said more than $9 million was injected into the city’s economy from bluefin tuna fishing alone.
More than a dozen protestors voiced their concerns over state policy on coal-seam gas at the entrance to the new foreshore area, but kept their distance from official proceedings.