Harbour fleet warning

FREMANTLE could lose its fishing fleet if a boat-lifting facility isn’t retained in Fishing Boat Harbour, mayor Brad Pettitt has warned.

Dr Pettitt said advice from the fishing industry was driving Fremantle council’s insistence that boat-lifting remain in the harbour when the current site is redeveloped by AMB Capital.

“It has come from the industry; like Kailis, like the [WA] Fishing Industry Council who have been quite clear from a maintenance point of view that without the convenience of the boat-lifters that you may lose the whole fleet from Fishing Boat Harbour,” Dr Pettitt said.

“You can’t undermine what makes it a working harbour, which is the boat-lifters.”

Dr Pettitt said the council was lobbying WA’s transport department, which manages the harbour, to look at other sites within the precinct.

“We think there are a couple of sites that would be good for a boat-lifters, and would see it upgraded so things like sheds are air-tight so fumes don’t blow over the community.”

AMB Capital held community workshops last week to get feedback on what local punters might like at the site, with wooden boatbuilding enthusiasts using the opportunity to push for that industry to be recognised and even re-established in the redevelopment.

Paul McGovern attended the sessions and said when he raised the issue “suddenly a whole bunch of people wanted to sit on my table”.

The photographer said Tasmania had experienced a significant tourism boom when it revitalised its wooden boatbuilding industry.

But while AMP’s facilitator expressed some support for the idea, Mr McGovern wasn’t convinced, saying they didn’t seem to understand the need for a custom-designed facility. He came away feeling the sessions were more a “box-ticking” exercise.

Dr Pettitt said another idea which had been flagged was to try and resurrect fish markets on the harbour.

He says if done well, the redevelopment could be a significant addition to the harbour, but says there are still hurdles around its size.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson said the development of the site was discussed at last week’s annual general meeting and the heights being floated were “alarming”.

Mr Dowson says at a “high-level visioning meeting” with the transport department in June no high rise was raised.

“I believe we are in for a surge of high rise propositions, a ring of concrete and glass around the historic town, with Fishing Boat Harbour, Victoria Quay (or South Quay as council ignorantly calls it) and possibly the Italian Club site,” he said.

by STEVE GRANT

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