COCKBURN council has had to scuttle plans to install three boat moorings near the Omeo wreck trail after a flood of complaints.
The council announced the proposed moorings on its Facebook page last Wednesday with a somewhat optimistic
“Good news, boaties”, saying it had received more than $20,000 from the state transport department.
It didn’t take long before beach and snorkelling lovers started questioning the decision.
“Why would you encourage boating next to a snorkel and dive trail? Dodging jet skis as you surface is always fun but to throw boats into the mix is just asking for trouble,” poster Loz Coleman summed up neatly what many were saying.
“Seriously? This close to our precious wreck, much-loved snorkelling spot, wildlife haven as well as not far from the eco barrier?” echoed Heike Motzek, while others offered critiques such as “awful”, “stoopid” and “unsafe”.
Next day as the posts continued to mount, the council attempted to explain its decision as a response to boats illegally encroaching on an exclusion zone around the wreck trail.
“Powerboats are prohibited at the trail and within 100m of the shore along Coogee Beach down to Coogee Jetty,” the council posted.
“Despite this, the city receives regular reports of boats illegally operating in this area.
“This has included vessels speeding through the non-motorised area and anchoring on top of the Omeo wreck.”
The council said it hoped to avoid this by giving boaties the authorised moorings nearby.
But that didn’t cut it with many, either.
“Essentially you’re saying ‘we know boaties don’t respect the rules already’; they don’t get enforced and you’re just providing more options for boats to be in the area,” Yvonne Doherty responded.
Michael Fineberg ran unsuccessfully in last year’s council elections for west ward and said while moorings would prevent anchors from destroying even more of Cockburn Sound’s seagrass, he had a swag of concerns about the location.
“This increases the risk of injury to swimmers, scuba divers and snorkelers from poorly skilled skippers as they approach,” he said.
“Engine waste – oil and so forth – causes deterioratio the marine life.
“Engine vibration causes deterioration of the wreck,” he said, noting it was already being damaged by people ignoring signage to climb over the exposed parts.
“If a boat slips its mooring, the margin of error is negligible.”
Mr Fineberg also took a shot when the council argued it had advertised the moorings as part of the consultation when adopting its annual budget.
“Because that is where everyone gets their maritime construction information from – the budget reports. I do hope that my sarcasm was noticeable,” Mr Fineberg said.
The council did consult directly with the local sea rescue and surf lifesaving clubs as well as Port Coogee marina users and the Underwater Explorers Club, but by Thursday the council buckled to the pressure.
“Taking into account community concerns around this issue, the city will put this state government funded and approved project on hold…”
The council said it would wait until the transport department completed a safety review and consultation.