SHOALHAVEN Riverwatch has hit out at the draft Shoalhaven Estuary Safe Boating Plan, released by NSW Maritime.
And the organisation’s president Patricia Mason has accused NSW Maritime of washing its hands of any environmental responsibility when it changed the title of the plan from a Boating Management Plan to a Safe Boating Plan.
“It is clear that Minister Tripodi and the staff of NSW Maritime are no longer concerned about their environmental responsibilities as the plan only addresses safety issues rather than the more difficult environmental issues,” Ms Mason said.
“The plan supports increased boating on the Shoalhaven River, particularly in the upper reaches, with total disregard to environmental impacts.
“Indeed, no mention is made of environmental responsibility in the plan.”
While the plan refers to the Foreshore Definition Study, Ms Mason said it ignored or disputed the study’s recommendations on boating without making any reference to environmental consultants or studies supporting the plan’s recommendation.
In contrast even Shoalhaven City Council’s original Estuary Management Plan for the river recommended a number of boating restrictions including banning wakeboarding in many areas, Ms Mason pointed out.
But “the failure of NSW Maritime to address the impact of wakeboarding demonstrates the lack of any understanding of this activity on other boat users and the environment by departmental officers,” she added.
Ms Mason described the few boating restrictions included in the draft plans as “tokenistic”, resulting in the plan being “a great disappointment to most farmers and river property owners who are trying to stop the loss of valuable land through erosion caused by boating.”
With the draft plan focusing only on safety issues and not considering environmental considerations, Riverwatch has questioned the ability of NSW Maritime top manage both concerns,
“Riverwatch believes that NSW Maritime should no longer be tasked with developing such management plans, and the responsibility should be passed to the Department of Environment and Climate Change with NSW Maritime providing only boat safety input,” Ms Mason said.
“Riverwatch will be raising this issue with the premier to have DECC responsible for this and future river management plans.”
NSW Maritime was asked for a response to Riverwatch’s criticism, but had not commented.