WARRNAMBOOL’S much-maligned Lady Bay harbour is shaping up to be a stormy issue for city council election candidates.
Tired of endless evaluation studies and promises from past councils, boat owners and fishing enthusiasts have put candidates on notice by calling for a commitment to make harbour improvements a priority.
Earlier this year the council put out two options for improved launching and mooring facilities, costing about $6 million, for community comment and received about 350 submissions. A decision is yet to be made.
“We are getting tired of being pushed around,” Warrnambool Offshore and Light Game Fishing Club president Bruce Ludeman said yesterday.
“Is this development going to happen or will it be just another wasted consultant’s report?
“We want to know where the candidates sit on this issue.
“If elected will they make it a priority decision and apply for government funding which we have been told is available?
“It’s not just a few fishermen’s interests at stake here, it’s the whole tourism industry.
“Millions of dollars in lost opportunity is going past Warrnambool’s door because boat owners are avoiding the woeful boat launching facilities.”
Club members Neville Dance and Trevor Uebergang, who were in a community reference group looking at harbour options, said there was growing frustration about delays in getting a decision.
“We spoke to local MP Denis Napthine, who said government money was available, but we are concerned the opportunity may run out if the council delays allocating its own funding,” Mr Dance said.
“Proper harbour facilities would attract visitors 12 months of the year.
“If boats and yachts cruising past run into trouble there is no safe mooring between Port Fairy and Apollo Bay.
“Lady Bay has recently been declared a marine precinct. Now we want action to make it a safe harbour.”
Fishing tackle supplier Mick Rantall, who has been pushing for better boating facilities for more than a decade, said an estimated 50 boat crews bypassed Warrnambool for the June long weekend and launched at Portland, which gained a $1.3m economic spin-off.
“It’s not a safe environment here in the bay,” he said.
“Any support to bring more people to the city should be supported — the spin-off from visiting fishing groups will be huge.”