'This is a great moment for us': Port's fishing industry shored up


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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The establishment of a commercial mooring facility, amenities building, wash-down bay and associated civil works will be constructed over part of Lot 4 and of Lot 96 Wharf Street (pictured) in Port Douglas. IMAGE: Newsport.

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MORE than 14 years of failed promises, confusing rhetoric and frustrating meetings have finally ended and the Port Douglas fishing industry can now look forward to promising and prosperous times after their future was rubber-stamped at today’s Council meeting.

Now that the relevant deeds of agreement have been approved, the sticky issues, such as the sale of freshly caught seafood produce from marine vessels (specifically the vessel the seafood was caught from); the slipway; marine-related tourism activities; marine infrastructure, among others, have been resolved, the fishing industry is looking forward to a bright future.

The outcome is further enhanced as it secures the fishers’ future at a time when the marina is earmarked for a multi-million dollar development by Crystalbrook.

Laurie Moull, president of the Port Douglas Fishing Association, told Newsport after the meeting that this is a significant and landmark decision.

“The fishing industry has declined over the past two decades and this was the last stand for us,” said Moull, who for the past 18 years has owned Santiego, a prawn trawler.

“We would have all been disappointed if today’s decision had not been taken. But we would have dug in our heels and persisted. I have two sons, many others are affected and this is why this is a great moment for us.

“This also provides us with the recognition we want: that there is a future for commercial fishing and the major role we play in the tourism industry. The two complement each other and now everyone will benefit.”

At today’s Council meeting, and in their application, Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina requested a Development Permit to support the establishment and construction of a commercial mooring facility, amenities building, wash-down bay and associated civil works over part of Lot 4 and part of Lot 96 at Wharf Street.

“The application seeks to obtain the statutory approvals from Council and State Authorities required to facilitate the relocation of the Port Douglas Commercial Fishermen, as required by the Deed of Agreement between The Reef Marina Pty Ltd, Douglas Shire Council and the Port Douglas Commercial Fishermen’s Association Inc.

“The site sits along the boundary dividing the Port Douglas Waterfront North and the Port Douglas Waterfront South Planning Areas, where the proposed development for a ‘Marina’ is considered to require an Impact Assessable Material Change of Use application. The application was publicly notified between the 18 January 2018 and 12 February 2018. One submission was received in response to public notification.”

According to the Douglas Shire Planning Scheme 2006, the approved land use of Marina is defined as premises used to moor or store marine vessels (including power driven yachts and fishing vessels) on, or adjacent to the water.

The use may include ancillary facilities for refuelling, servicing, repair, land storage and the sale of marine craft and for the sale of related boating gear and equipment.

The use includes:

• slipway;
• marine infrastructure;
• offices and storerooms;
• laundry, toilet and shower facilities;
• general store not exceeding 250m2 ;
• marine retail, including dive stores;
• marine related tourism activities;
• ancillary marina facilities used in connection with the marina;
• sale of freshly caught seafood produce from marine vessels (specifically the vessel the seafood was caught from).

Mayor Julia Leu said Port Douglas was built on the blood and sweat of commercial fishers, who continue to be such a vital part of our local economy.

“That rich history plays a vital role in defining the town’s character,” Mayor Leu said.

“This development not only supports that industry, it consolidates Port Douglas as a major tourist centre and protects the sensitive environment that adds to the town’s identity.

“I could not be more thrilled with the opportunity for a fishermen’s wharf to open down the track, where people buy fresh and local seafood straight from the boat.”

Councillor David Carey, in supporting the development of the marina, said he was pleased to see this application put to bed and the fishers now have a secured future.

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