Silver Lining to Ramp Woes at Lake Bullen Merri

The state of Victoria’s boat ramps continues to be a huge concern for many fishers.

Last week, fishers contacted VRFish concerned with the state of disrepair of the Lake Bullen Merri ramp and platforms could lead to the site being closed due to safety concerns.

Fishers were faced with nearly a 2 metre drop on either side of the wooden structures, broken timbers and floating pontoons, washed away soil either side of the actual boat ramp and timber poles sticking out of the ground where boats are launched.

VRFish contacted both DELWP and the Victorian Fisheries Authority asking these agencies to step in and ensure:

  1. temporary boat ramp access at the site and;
  2. fastrack the construction of a purpose built boat ramp.

Thankfully, Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford has saved the day by announcing an additional $15,000 from the Labor Government’s Target One Million plan to help repair the ramp, including concreting works. We also understand that any potential hazards have been removed leading to the continuation of full access for boating launching and retrieving following a productive meeting with the Victorian Fisheries Authority and our local fishers on Monday.

While its disappointing that something needs to break or be a safety concern before action is taken, we want to congratulate the Victorian Fisheries Authority for stepping in swiftly to reach a positive outcome for the community.

The Lake Bullen Merri fishery is literally booming at the moment with terrific catches of Chinook salmon and trout. We can take some comfort that the Government is also committed to ensuring safe, easy and ongoing access at the site.

In 2017, our South West and Camperdown fishers raised concerns about the state of the boating infrastructure at Lake Bullen Merri. This led to VRFish supporting the volunteer-run South Beach Committee of Management to successfully obtain a $10,000 grant from the Better Fishing Facilities Fund (Victorian Fisheries Authority) for the purposes of preparing costed designs for a purpose-built launching infrastructure. Unfortunately, a storm and fire event in March this year contributed more damage to the infrastructure.

Without taking anything away from a terrific and fully supported funding announcement, the situation at Lake Bullen Merri does illustrate a deeper problem facing our boating infrastructure and why we need urgent boating infrastructure governance reforms and a new funding model.

Even when we have costed designs for a new facility there is still another hurdle to then ‘find’ more funds to actually get it built.  Then there are more funds needed to maintain the facility which the South Beach Committee of Management are not provided with. The worst case scenario is we could be back to square one in a matter of years.

VRFish has been asking, why doesn’t Victoria have a single expertise-based agency that is tasked with building, maintaining and upgrading our infrastructure? Why do we persist with have 40-50 different organisations that are supposed to ‘look after’ our ramps without the expertise and without the necessary resourcing to do the job?

This example, and all other boating infrastructure woes that come across VRFish’s desk all point towards a need to fix the system once and for all, so that we have a chance to catch up to other Australian states such as NSW and WA who have a system that works and is delivering the infrastructure that meets the needs of recreational fishers now, and into the future.

VRFish Boat Ramp Election Platform:

FIX OUR BOAT RAMPS – Boating infrastructure governance and funding reforms

  • 100% return of recreational boating registration and license fees to a Trust Account to build, maintain and improve Victoria’s recreational boating infrastructure.
  • Establish one single expertise-based agency to oversee, build and maintain our boating infrastructure.

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