AN Apollo Bay fisherman has welcomed an almost $2.2-million injection into the town’s harbour.
Crayfish and and shark fisherman Ross Ferrier was the first of Apollo Bay’s fishermen to hear of the State Government’s funding when Ports Minister Denis Napthine, Member for Polwarth Terry Mulder and Colac Otway Shire mayor Brian Crook boarded his boat and told him personally.
Mr Napthine announced the State Government’s plan to spend $1.4 million on a new harbour dredging vessel, replacing a 70-year-old dredge, as well as $780,000 for ongoing port costs.
Mr Ferrier, who has been fishing for 47 years, said a deeper and wider channel would allow guarantee anglers’ departure times and more accurate arrival times in heavy weather.
“Without a doubt it’s a necessity for the continued viability of the port of Apollo Bay and the whole thing – whether you’re commercial or whether you’re a visiting yachty or a local yachty,” he said.
Mr Napthine said the new dredge would clear the harbour of built-up sand and ensure the harbour’s entrance was always at a safe depth.
“The current dredge is over 70 years old and it has served the community and the local port and the fishing industry and the recreational boating industry,” he said yesterday.
“It’s past its used-by date; it’s time for a new dredge.”
Cr Crook said the $2.2 million would guarantee jobs and maintain the port’s supply to Colac district’s and Melbourne’s fish market.
“The Australian fishing industry generates about $2 billion of product annually and the industry based out of Apollo Bay accounts for $8 to $10 million per year,” Cr Crook said.
“Fishermen upload up to 85 tonnes of abalone at our harbour here and about 60 to 70 tonnes of crayfish,” he said.
Mr Mulder said the new dredge would complement a $953,000 harbour breakwater project, which the State Government announced in January.
“I think the harbour is now very well secured in terms of funding and its future opportunities for both tourism and for the fishing industry in Apollo Bay.”