The Environment Minister Stephen Dawson was in Busselton on Saturday to meet with community members and officials about the decision to close the Canal Rocks boat ramp.
Mr Dawson said a consultant’s report commissioned by the previous government identified that the Canal Rocks jetty posed a significant risk to public safety.
“At the meeting we discussed a range of ways forward, including quarantining the facility for use by emergency services, and options for limited seasonal access,” he said.
“The City of Busselton agreed to have the August 2017 study compiled by MP Rogers peer reviewed.”
City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said the report from a coastal engineer indicated there was no viable way of making the boat ramp comply with Australian Standards for marinas and that the facility was in fact facing closure.
Mr Henley said they asked the Minister for the opportunity to undertake a peer review to ascertain under what circumstances the facility could potentially remain operational.
“The Minister agreed to allow time for the completion of a peer review which will explore possible mitigation strategies like for example seasonal use and signage,” he said.
“The peer review will explore all these measures in collaboration with all stakeholders including commercial and recreational fishers, tourist and charter operators and marine rescue services.”
Mr Henley said they would formally advise the Minister this week that the peer review will proceed and commission an independent consultant to undertake the review.
“People are very passionate about this issue. Many have commented that they’ve used the boat ramp for close to 70 years without major incident.
“Of course caution must be exercised when using the ramp, but in reality the Canal Rocks launching facility is no different from numerous other open-ocean boat ramps operating across the state.
“We remain optimistic that common sense will prevail and the facility will remain operational in at least some capacity.”
Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue Group volunteer Paul Bresland said he was not sure the Minister understood the impact of closing the ramp would have on the community in the 30 minute meeting.
Mr Bresland said closing the boat ramp would impact heavily on professional and recreational fisherman, marine rescue volunteers and tourists.
Vasse MP Libby Mettam said she maintained her opposition to any closure of the boat ramp, whether seasonal, restricted access or otherwise.
Ms Mettam said the Minister stated that as the government now had a report which underlined the risk at this facility, they were now liable for any dangerous consequence of its use.
She said this risk-averse approach was a dangerous precedent to set which she believed could lead to the closure of many other boat ramp facilities along the WA coastline.
“In particular at Hamelin Bay, Gnarabup and Gracetown,” she said.
“This represents a major backward step in the way the McGowan Government manages its public assets.”
Ms Mettam said she would present a petition to the Assembly, and prepared a petition for the Council with Shadow Environment Minister Steve Thomas MLC which will be examined by an upper house Committee.