SPOIL from dredging of the Tooradin boat ramp being pumped into the water instead of onto land has brought a chorus of complaints.
A contractor working for Tooradin foreshore committee of management is set to start dredging about 1000 cubic metres of silt and sediment as early as this week in a project costing about $60,000.
A cutter suction dredge, towed into position late last week, will for about a week pump spoil and water 1000 metres downstream on outgoing tides only.
But fishing experts say whiting will not be caught in the Tooradin Channel, a popular destination for Western Port fishers, for at least three months.
A seagrass expert said it was “unusual to do dredging this way and seems to be against EPA guidelines”.
Doug Watson of Western Port Seagrass Partnership said the group had only just found out about the dredging and would seek “advice from our ports, seagrass and marine science experts”.
A long-time Western Port fisher, who spoke to The News on the condition of anonymity, said he thought what is known as outflow dredging had been banned years ago.
“This will smother seagrass and make the channel look like an inland dam for up to six weeks,” he said.
“It will ruin the whiting fishing for 12 weeks or more.”
He said when the boat ramp was dredged last time, material going onto land near the car park was 90 per cent silt and sediment and 10 per cent water. Pumping into the channel would see 5 per cent silt and 95 per cent water, which would disperse it over a large area.
“Fly over Tooradin and you’ll see a whitish grey plume stretching down the channel into Western Port,” he said.
Ross Wilkie of the committee of management said the committee wanted to pump spoil into a coffer dam onshore like last time, but “Department of Sustainability and Environment officers won’t allow it”.
Simon Branigan, the marine and coastal project officer with the Victorian National Parks Association, said the outflow dredging was “a completely unacceptable situation”.
“Protection of marine habitat should be the number one priority and other avenues should be explored for disposal of dredged matter other than into the marine environment,” he said.
Ray Angel, a long-time amateur fisherman of Tooradin, said “I can’t see it doing any good; it [spoil] shouldn’t be put into the channel”.
“There is plenty of room for a coffer dam like was used last time,” he said.
“Pumping it into the channel, well, it will gradually come back again. The ramp area has never been dredged properly. They need to erect a seawall to stop the silt coming down a small creek next to the ramp.”
Both DSE and the EPA could not provide information before deadline.
After dredging at Tooradin, the contractor will move south to dredge the Stony Point launching ramp, where spoil will be pumped into a coffer dam on land.