COMMERCIAL fishers have used the launch of a masterplan for Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour to ramp up a campaign for a memorial to colleagues lost at sea.
The WA Fishers Lost at Sea Memorial Project was formed a year ago after local fishers and the WA Fishing Industry Council met and decided the human cost of building up one of the state’s most important industries hadn’t been adequately recognised.
Committee member James Paratore said there were a handful of memorials up and down the coast, but they were little known and for specific tragedies, while the project hopes a hub at Fishing Boat Harbour will link them together as well as recognising other lesser-known incidents.
“These stories have not been told, and the fishing story generally has not been told properly,” Dr Paratore said.
“Since our first meeting we have collected 50 stories and have records of 340 fatalities, just amongst the commercial fishers alone.”
Dr Paratore said the scale of loss would be even greater had they included pearl diving or recreational fishing, and said it had been a difficult decision to draw the line at professional fishers.
Dr Paratore said the group recently met with fisheries minister Don Punch, who was supportive, so they’ve put a submission in for the harbour masterplan to try and get the memorial onto the agenda.
The masterplan has reaffirmed Fishing Boat Harbour as a working harbour anchored by the fishing industry, but paves the way for a major redevelopment of the current Boatlifters site and more pens for super yachts.
The plan also flags moving the Boatlifters to Capo D’Orlando Drive, bringing it closer to residential South Fremantle, But the Herald did some doorknocking and most residents said it was something to be expected living across the road from a maritime industry sector.
Others living near the current operation said it wasn’t the noisy and dusty nuisance it once was.
But the Fremantle Society said plans to continue a boardwalk from Bathers Beach through to Victoria Quay were “akin to putting a freeway through King’s Park” because it would destroy rare city beach bushland.
But the society praised the Department of Transport’s “measured” approach to the masterplan, saying it was a great improvement over previous plans in 2008 which were “a massive over-reach”.
The society says the plans should make room to celebrate the harbour’s history, particularly as its centenary is only two years away and the Fremantle Fishermen’s Co-op is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
The society said it was very disappointing that a Maritime Heritage Trail proposed for Fremantle didn’t get a mention in the masterplan.
by STEVE GRANT