THE Futurefish Foundation has applauded the state government’s move to create a fishing and boating department – and again criticised Mornington Peninsula Shire Council for daring to suggest it was in a position to negotiate with the government on boat ramp control.
Described as a first for any state, the department to be headed by MP Jaala Pulford aims to “recognise the growth and popularity of recreational fishing and boating and how important that community is to this state government”, Futurefish Foundation director David Kramer said.
“Having a dedicated portfolio for fishing and boating will make the transition of bringing the management of all boat ramps under one single authority much easier, and will deliver facilities that boaters and fishers have been calling for decades.”
The shire has six ramps: five on Port Phillip at Schnapper Point, Fishermans Beach, Mornington; Safety Beach; Rye; and Sorrento, and one at Hastings. Sand ramps at Mt Martha and Flinders can be used by tractors and four-wheel-drives only.
Other ramps include Tootgarook (managed by the Capel Sound foreshore committee) and Flinders (run by Parks Victoria).
The shire last month suggested the state government would have to guarantee the same level of financial support and maintenance of the peninsula’s boat ramps as was provided by the council or any change to their management would not be supported (“Back up ramp funding or no deal, says shire” The News 27/11/18).
Mr Kramer waded in: “With councils, [including] Mornington Peninsula Shire, saying they may not do a deal with the state government, they will very soon realise that this isn’t a deal.
“There is a new minister in charge of boating and it’s a simple matter of changing the management authority for the footprint of publicly owned land used for boat launching and trailer parking,” he said.
“The Mornington Peninsula Shire have their head in the sand if they think this is some sort of tug-of-war over who will manage boat ramps in the future.
“This is an Andrews government commitment, made publicly, and isn’t up for negotiation.”
Mr Kramer said the state government was “set to move swiftly on this issue and make boat ramps free, more user friendly, and with upgraded facilities, such as fish cleaning tables, to meet the expectations of the tens of thousands of boaters and fishers on the peninsula”. “While reconstruction of the Rye boat ramp is welcomed, the proposed Hastings ramp plan – to demolish the Western Port Angling Club’s clubrooms to make way for an additional six car parks – does not meet the expectations of anglers.”
He said Ms Pulford had delivered a “plethora of fishing improvements during the last term of government as minister for agriculture”.
“She has a proven track record of delivering for recreational anglers. Her list includes taking the commercial fishing nets out of Port Phillip, stocking a record number of fish into Victorian waters and converting Fisheries Victoria into a statutory authority, now known as the Victorian Fisheries Authority.”
Mr Kramer said with the Nepean electorate “falling into Labor’s hands” Futurefish Foundation believes the peninsula’s boating and fishing facilities “look to be finally in the best hands to receive the care and attention they have needed for decades”.