By Christian Fleetwood.
The timeline for the dredging of Port MacDonnell remains unclear, after the state government said it is still working out the best way to dredge the area. Speaking in the House of Assembly, South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard confirmed the dredging of Port MacDonnell was on his department’s radar.
However, he stopped short of offering a timeline due to ongoing work with the Environmental Protection Authority to decide on the best method of dredging the port. “The Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) undertakes regular hydrographic surveys of the Port MacDonnell boat haven to monitor sand and wrack material (drifting dead seagrass and marine algae) movement,” Mr Wingard said.
“These surveys have identified that a significant amount of wrack material has accumulated in the boat haven in the vicinity of the boat ramp, wharf and within the marked channel. “Sand has also accumulated in the area near the end of the breakwater. “DIT intends to dredge these areas.” Mr Wingard’s response comes after Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell in May asked the Minister for Transport when the port will “finally be dredged”, on behalf of “the people of Port MacDonnell”.
It comes as Mr Bell continues a campaign to have the Port MacDonnell harbour dredged. According to the Member for Mount Gambier, it has been at least 13 years since the port was dredged. “DIT is working with the Environment Protection Authority to identify suitable dredging methodologies to enable the dredging program to commence,” Mr Wingard told the House of Assembly.
“A timeline for the dredging program cannot be developed for the program until this has occurred. “To facilitate safe access to the landing area and boat ramp at Port MacDonnell, a safe navigable channel is marked by lit lateral beacons in line with international guidelines.
“The channel and its depth are also documented on official navigational charts issued by the Australian Hydrographic Office. “Like all harbours and waters around the state, the safe operational depth is governed by the rise and fall of the tide and safe under keel clearance is the responsibility of the vessel operator.”
According to Mr Bell, $4m has been allocated towards regional coastline projects in this year’s State Budget, despite $48m in funds raised by a hike in the Solid Waste Levy being allocated towards metropolitan coastlines. “Years of build-up of sand and seaweed is causing major problems for Port MacDonnell’s rock lobster fishing fleet- one of the state’s most valuable industries,” Mr Bell said.
“Levels are so high, professional and recreational fishermen are having trouble refuelling, mooring and moving in and out of the harbour and reporting engine damage due to weed ingestion. “This is becoming a safety issue – locals need to be able to use the harbour safely.”