Port Douglas Coast Guard dispute ends after two years

MARINE RESCUE AND SAFETY

Victoria Stone-Meadows

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Members of MRPD and Cairns Coast Guard farewell the RV Douglas. Image: Supplied.
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A long-running dispute between the volunteers of Marine Rescue Port Douglas (MRPD) and the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association (AVCGA) has come to an end.

The agreement between the two organisations will see the RV Douglas, a marine rescue vessel, relocated to Cooktown and the Port Douglas dept reopened to use by the volunteers of MRPD.

The dispute started about two years ago when volunteers of the Port Douglas Volunteer Coast Guards decided to move their affiliations from the AVCGA to Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR), creating MRPD.

Tensions between the new MRPD and AVCGA boiled over in 2017 when volunteer members were locked out of the Port Douglas depot and denied access to their rescue equipment and vessel.


Related Coverage:
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People who requested assistance from the Coast Guard during this time were forced to wait hours for a response from the Cairns-based AVCGA Queensland Flotilla 9 for three months following the lockout.

However, an agreement signed on Thursday 8 August resolves the ongoing issues and preserves key assets in the Douglas community, allowing more timely responses to marine rescue emergencies.

The RV Douglas will be redeployed to the AVCGA’s Cooktown Flotilla as part of the agreement and MRPD will retain ownership of the RV Port Douglas.

The RV Port Douglas was donated to the community by Minister Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford last year and supersedes the RV Douglas as the main rescue vessel for the area.

AVCGA Queensland State Council Chairman Robin Hood OAM said the agreement would see a stronger relationship between AVCGA and Port Douglas volunteers.

“I am pleased to start my tenure with a common sense outcome to this situation,” he said.

“It’s a positive result for the AVCGA, Cooktown, and the Douglas community that will see a greater interrelationship between Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR)and AVCGA units in the area to deliver a better and more reliable rescue service to the boating public.”

MRPD President Ross Wood said it is a great relief to see an end to the tensions between the two organisations.

“We are delighted by the spirit of cooperation with which this has been resolved and are pleased to see the RV Douglas continue its great service to the Queensland boating community in Cooktown,” he said.

In a statement released yesterday, the AVCGA and MRPD said they recognised that their first obligation is to the boating public and the community that supports them.

“Without community support, both VMR and AVCGA would find it difficult if not impossible to offer effective support for marine incidents,” the statement reads.

Last Sunday members of MRPD and the AVCGA gathered to farewell the RV Douglas on its journey to Cooktown after a period of refurbishment in Cairns.


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