As concerns build that further wake enhancing boating restrictions could eventually be enforced on other areas along the Murray River authorities are looking to wrap up the public consultation period next Wednesday, February 28 for the controversial Corowa to Ovens Junction Murray River Draft Erosion Management Plan.
The plan is set to enforce a proposed ban on wake enhancing boating activities on a 49km stretch between Bundalong and Corowa for three years, with suggestions of up to five years from the middle of this year.
Although authorities say there are no plans to widen the ban, RMS Principal Manager South Operations and Compliance Mike Hammond told the attendees at the information session in Yarrawonga last week that the plan will allow authorities to determine if the trial ban on wakeboarding and wake enhancing activities in this stretch of the river makes a difference on the impact of erosion.
In response to questions from the meeting about the definition of wake enhancing and if wakeboarding is still to be banned all together as an activity in the stretch of the river concerned Mr Hammond said that as it stands wakeboarding is still to be banned.
“Wakeboarding, wakesurfing and wake enhancing will be prohibited,” Mr Hammond said.
“It is broad at the moment, it is something we expect to receive some feedback on. At this stage that’s what’s proposed.
“As soon as we start splitting hairs and a say it’s just the use of ballast and wedges (to be banned) I think it’s going to be very difficult to achieve the final objectives we are aiming for.
“What we are trying to do is reduce the incidents of large wake that has the erosion impact that also has safety and amenity impacts.”
Authorities were again questioned in relation to the lack of relevant science used in the draft plan and members of the public expressed their disappointment that no socio economic impact studies had been done around the impact of the planned ban.
A vocal crowd of up to 70 people also attended the third and final information session held in Corowa last Thursday where residents questioned the difficulty of policing such a ban.
The plan’s objectives have shocked business and boating communities in the Bundalong and Corowa region, who claim it is unnecessary and will decimate tourism.
Once the public consultation period ends next Wednesday authorities will then review the feedback and develop a final management plan in May with actions to be implemented in June/July this year. Monitoring will then take place throughout the trial period from 2018 to the end of 2020.
The Save the Boating on the Murray group has called for the plan to be abolished and will be putting in a formal submission to government authorities and the NSW Maritime Minister Melinda Pavey highlighting their concerns about the plan.
“We will be asking for the plan to be scrapped and want to work solely with RMS without MDBA,” committee member Brett Butler said.
Mr Butler said the group felt it was necessary and believe their draft activity zone plan which aims at establishing a more cohesive plan along the river taking into account all boating users is the better way forward.
Have your say by February 28.
Email to [email protected], or mail to Murray River Erosion Project, Roads and Maritime Services, Locked Bag 5100, Camperdown NSW 1450.
For more information call 1800 316 622 or visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/south-coast/MurrayRiverErosion.html