A MULTI-million dollar plan to build a large marina and marine industrial complex on the Shoalhaven River east of Nowra has divided the local fishing community.
Riverwatch vice-president and long-time guardian of the river, Charlie Weir, said he was “a little bit disturbed” about the plan to build a 240 wet-berth and 200 dry-stack marina beside Berry’s Canal.
“It’s just not right, they don’t see the sensible side of things,” said Mr Weir, who argued Shaw’s Creek would be a far better location for a marina.
He said the marina had the potential to “bugger up the whole system”, and would be susceptible to damage during floods.
“People today just don’t understand about floods and what damage they can do,” Mr Weir said.
Long-time fisherman Jack Price was also concerned about the marina interfering with the canal stretching from the Shoalhaven River to the Crookhaven River, beside Comerong Island.
“I think the traffic on the river is going to be too busy,” Mr Price said.
However another keen local angler, Wes Murphy, said the plan was “sensational”.
The fishing writer, who worked a couple of seasons on a game fishing boat operating out of Cairns, was particularly impressed with plans to include proper refuelling facilities in the development.
He said refuelling tended to be a bit haphazard among some anglers, resulting in too many fuel spills into the river system.
“If you’ve got someone trained to fuel big boats, who has proper procedures in place, it’s got to be safer,” Mr Murphy said.
He said millions of dollars in repairs and maintenance on NSW boats were being spent in Queensland each year, and the marina and associated marine industrial complex offered the chance for Nowra to snare a slice of the pie.
The Shoalhaven City Marina plan has been put forward by Southern Cross Waterfronts, which plans to utilise a one-hectare marina basin built beside the canal in 1991 as part of a development approval given in 1989.
That approval includes 25 wet berths for 20 metre boats in the marina basin and the company is in the process of preparing a second development application for further boat building, boat repair, boat maintenance and boat storage facilities.
Southern Cross Waterfronts director Simone Coombes said the company was trying to develop a marine industrial precinct with direct access to the ocean, free of overhead navigational barriers and with sufficient depth to resolve problems local boat builders faced, as none had direct sea access.
This industrial marine precinct would provide a one-stop shop where people could commission new boats, store or moor boats, get them serviced, repaired, refuelled, and test new boats, she said.
To date “we’ve had an overwhelming response,” Ms Coombes said.
The company is trying to find out how much interest in using the marine industrial precinct exists and has released a public information document that will be available shortly on its website, www.shoalhavencitymarina.-com.au.