Murray River authorities will wrap up the public consultation period today 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 wakeboarding and 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.
A committee made up of representatives from various authorities such as Roads and Maritime Services, Murray Darling Basin Association and a representative from Federation Council and councillor Peter Mansfield from Moira Shire Council will assist in the review of 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 ban has come with a lot of controversy with members of the community questioning authorities about the lack of relevant science used in the draft plan. Community members have also expressed their disappointment that no socio economic impact studies had been done around the impact of the planned ban.
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 on February 13 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 in 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.”
At all three consultation meetings in Bundalong, Yarrawonga and Corowa residents questioned the difficulty of policing such a ban when there is no real clear definition about what is to be banned. Feedback received at the meeting pointed out that a wake can be enhanced by a slow moving boat of any size with several people in the back.
The plan’s objectives have shocked businesses and boating communities in the Bundalong and Corowa region, who claim it is unnecessary and could decimate tourism.
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.
Have your say by today 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