Richmond River bar dredging is a step closer

Professional and amateur fishermen will welcome the announcement that the NSW Government has signalled its intention to dredge river bars and navigation channels in a major policy shift.

Minister for the North Coast and Member for Ballina Don Page said: “The dredging of the Ballina Bar is a step closer with the NSW Government currently evaluating tenders for an entrance bar feasibility study, which will include costings for the dredging of the Ballina bar.

“This study will identify the most practical solution to restore adequate clearance over the bar, which provides value for money and long-term benefits.

“It will also look at environmental issues associated with dredging.

“The Richmond River entrance at Ballina is extremely hazardous for professional and recreational mariners and it is clear something needs to be done.

“At least six boats have capsized on the bar this year.

“The Chairman of the Ballina Fishermen’s Co-operative, Tony Puglisi, says commercial operators on the Tweed can work 190 nights a year whilst those based in Ballina may only get out 60 nights.

“The build-up of sand at the entrance to the Richmond River is not the only problem.

“I am also concerned about the state of the Ballina boat harbour.

“I am also pleased to announce Crown Lands is in the process of selecting a consultant to develop a dredging strategy and environmental impact assessment for the boat harbour.

“In September 2011, Crown Lands met with Ballina Council, NSW Maritime, the Office of Environment and Heritage, and representatives from Richmond River Fishermen’s Co-operative and Marine Rescue. 

“The meeting focused on the options to minimise the risk to mariners as well as associated costs and performance with these improvements.

“It is vital for the local economy that professional and recreational fishers can get safe access to the ocean.

“The last dredging of the Richmond River entrance occurred in the 1970s.

“A survey of the Richmond River bed in August 2011 found the bar entrance was growing and likely to further restrict navigation.

“If commercial operators cannot get access to the ocean, they will go out of business or take their boats to other ports.

“Ballina is also a popular destination for recreational fishing and whale watching, so it is imperative for the economy and local jobs that boats can safely cross the Richmond River bar.

“The Ballina Council is also concerned about this issue and I am pleased to see Crown Lands and the Council are in regular communication about the need to expedite the dredging of the bar and the boat harbour.

“The dredging of the Ballina bar is a priority for Crown Lands.”

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