Fishers and boaters raging over boat ramps

It’s no secret Victorian recreational fishers and boaters have had a gutful of the state of our boat ramps and will feature as a key election issue later this year. Frustrated fishers have overwhelmed VRFish about the ridiculous wait times to launch and retrieve, unsafe ramps covered in sand and slippery algae, limited facilities, safety concerns as well as the inconvenience of online parking ticket systems. It’s taken Victoria many years to find ourselves in this this lamentable situation and there is no option but to push the reset button on this broken and battered system.

Fishing opportunities in Victoria have never been better and the current State Government’s Target One Million plan aims to get more people fishing more often. While it is a great initiative, increased participation will put more pressure on the already failing boating infrastructure. With the current state of our boat ramps, including the ridiculous wait times, it is causing the opposite action – with many choosing to avoid fishing and boating all together.

Each ramp is looked after by different bodies, including local Councils, Parks Victoria, Committees of Land Management, Water Authorities and 40 other organisations which shows why there is no coordination, planning and maintenance programs like we see in other states across Australia. In New South Wales, their boating fees and charges are reinvested into the industry to support the delivery of boating related services and infrastructure. In addition to the reinvestment of fees, the NSW State Government funds the NSW Boating Now program (worth $70 million) to support initiatives that enhance the boating experience and infrastructure in New South Wales.

It is very costly to get out onto the water where many are faced with excessive parking fees at the local level which is on top of the annual licence fees and registrations. Many Councils are going paperless with their parking tickets, making it increasingly difficult for those without a smartphone. Across Victoria online parking ticket systems are being introduced where boaters must create an online account to pay for their parking or purchase their tickets from the Council customer service and visitor information centres or local businesses. For those who head out onto the water at 3am, it becomes impossible to purchase a ticket.

Above: Our fishers are being slugged exuberant parking fees for the privilege of using boat ramp facilities. Fishers that live away from coastal local government areas are disadvantaged even further by paying non-resident fees.

Slugging fishers and boaters more money in the form of parking and launching fees tell us that these organisations are not being allocated some of the $27 million dollars collected annually from you in the the form of boating registrations and licences for maintenance and upgrades. It begs the question ‘where does this money go?’ Due to the state of Victoria’s boat ramps, it is clearly not being reinvested into our boat ramps and infrastructure.

The State Government collects around $27 million per year from boat registrations and marine licenses (BIAV, 2018). Acts of Parliament, including the Motor Boating Act of 1961 and the Marine Safety Act of 2010 indicate that this money should be used to support recreational boating through improving infrastructure, facilities, safety, promotion, master planning and aids to navigation. However, it is estimated that only $3 million per year is reinvested. From 2011-2016 the total collected was $132 million and the total re-invested was $14 million. In fact in 2013-2014, Transport Safety Victoria paid VicRoads $5.2 million to collect the registration and licence fees, which is much more than the amount reinvested into the ramps.

In the lead up to the Victorian State Election, VRFish has fixing our boat ramps as a key priority in our Election Policy. With all these great fishing opportunities across Victoria, the main thing holding us back is being able to get out onto the water. With that in mind, VRFish is advocating on your behalf for:

  • 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.

The state of our ramps has become such a cause of frustration for fishers and boaters that a Ramp Rage campaign has started across social media.

To make change, you can add your voice to grassroots campaigns like Ramp Rage by visiting the Ramp Rage website to become a supporter or share your ramp rage story on their Facebook page. By supporting Ramp Rage, your postcode will be used to create a map of the areas of highest concern to our fishers and boaters which will be sent to Victorian politicians to demonstrate where the public want better boating facilities. With a state election only a few months away, there is no better time to have your voice heard and encourage the reforms needed for our boat ramps and infrastructure.

Recommended for you

Subscribe to our mailing list

Join our 50,000+ subscribers in receiving our Fishing Lines News delivered straight to your inbox. Don’t miss out on all the issues affecting your fishing, projects improving your fishing and opportunities to have your say about your fishery.

* indicates required
Communication Preferences (tick all that apply)