Does Capricorn Coast need another boat ramp?
THIS week's commentary surrounding a controversial works project at Rosslyn Bay Harbour, which saw both floating pontoons removed, has "stirred up an ant's nest” for local boatie Clive King.
For 11 years, Mr King has campaigned for a new boat ramp on the Capricorn Coast to ease pressure on the two ramps at the Yeppoon harbour.
When you consider statistics supplied yesterday by the Department of Transport and Main Roads showed there were 48,328 registered boat owners in our region, Mr King's thoughts that figure doesn't fit into two ramps, has some substance.
It should be noted that for statistical purposes, TMR's "Gladstone Maritime Region” takes in an expansive area incorporating Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and further west.
Not to be drowned in stats, but earlier this week a report released by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, revealed the number of anglers in Central Queensland had risen by 12,800 in the past 12 months to 35,300.
Those figures were celebrated by Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga in this publication on Monday, and rightly so.
A boating enthusiast herself, Mrs Lauga said the surge in popularity of recreational fishing meant more money was being injected into local businesses.
Also this week, Reef Action Fishing Charters operator Weylin Zonruiter said in good weather there could be upwards of 30 boats trying to launch/retrieve at any given time at Rosslyn Bay Harbour.
"It's a fairly long wait with two ramps operating, let alone one, especially when there's no pontoon,” Mr Zonruiter said, in reference to the simultaneous removal of two floating pontoons for replacement.
Mr King must have been at home figuratively sharpening his hooks for another round in the "we need another boat ramp on the Capricorn Coast” debate which refuses to go away.
"During the de-amalgamation period the Rockhampton Regional Council and State Government contributed $25,000 each to provide a study on the need for boat ramps in this area,” he said.
"Collectively 11 sites were identified to be investigated for a proposed boat ramp to be positioned on the Capricorn Coast from Rosslyn Bay through to Keppel Sands.
"This study was very comprehensive and in-depth which gave a proper result moving forward.
"To cut a long story short, out of all the sites investigated, the Fishermans Beach (Emu Park) site was voted by the public at 76%.
"To this day, these figures have never been used by the previous government and the current state government.”
Mrs Lauga said in 2016, the Department of Transport and Main Roads undertook detailed community consultation regarding a proposed all-tide boat ramp at Fisherman's Beach, Emu Park.
"The TMR survey found that the majority of the Emu Park community and the Livingstone Shire more broadly do not support an all-tide boat ramp at this location,” she said.
"I went to State election in 2017 with a commitment to upgrade Corbett's Landing and Thompson's Point boat ramps and I am delivering on that commitment.
"I have delivered tens of millions of dollars in new marine infrastructure for Keppel since my election, including two new lanes at Coorooman Creek, the buoy moorings in Keppel Bay, the sealing of Svendsen's Road, new floating pontoons currently under construction, toilet facilities and car parks.”
Mrs Lauga said there was no doubt that improvements in marine infrastructure and increasing fish stocks were playing a key role in the growth of fishing as a sport, hobby and local tourist attraction.
"It was Labor that took the nets out of the Fitzroy and Keppel Bay and as a result we are seeing increased barra, threadfin and blue salmon stocks as we fast become the largest wild barramundi fishery in the world.
"Not to mention the huge surge in locals wetting their lines and fishing tourists visiting our region.”
Mrs Lauga said one in 19 Queenslanders were recreational boating enthusiasts.
"I'm proud to be one of those,” she said.