Save the Canal Rocks boat ramp rally

A peer review into the Canal Rocks Jetty – Safety in Design report has found the Canal Rocks boat ramp is no more risky than other exposed ramps in WA.

The peer review was commissioned by the City of Busselton in response to a feasibility study to investigate safety issues at the boat ramp which stated it was a risk 90 per cent of the time.

The initial report pushed the state government to announce it would close the boat ramp to all users, excluding emergency services, after its insurer RiskCover advised it would bar all claims and liability arising from the boat ramp

In the peer review, Shore Coastal engineer Stuart Barr said the risk assessment undertaken was largely anecdotal in relation to wave heights and frequency of safety incidents.

Mr Barr noted that the Australian Standards stated, “boating facilities should be sheltered from waves larger than 0.2 metres, while the risk assessment noted facilities shall be sheltered from wavers larger than 0.2m.

“This is an important distinction, as there are many existing boating facilities in WA, including those adjacent to Canal Rocks, where wave heights regularly exceed 0.2m,” he wrote.

“There are existing boat ramps within marinas where wave heights may exceed 0.2m and surges are evident.”

It was noted in the peer review that under certain weather conditions other boat ramps in the region could be less suitable and there were no other “sheltered locations” nearby.

The closest “sheltered” marinas to Canal Rocks were 45 kilometres away at the Port Geographe Marina or 87km at Augusta.

“The closure of the Canal Rocks boating facility may simply relocate the risk to mariners of launching vessels to adjacent facilities managed by local governments.”

City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said if the Environment Minister Stephen Dawson closed the boat ramp on the basis of safety, there could be repercussions for other facilities across the entire state.

Mr Henley said the closure of the facility would put significant pressure on other boat ramps in the region, particularly in summer when the volume of boat launches more than doubles.

”Importantly if this facility closes there will be considerable congestion at other boat ramps in the region and the travel time on the water for boaties would significantly increase.”

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the peer review was now being considered by the government and the boat ramp would remain open until a final decision was made.

“With responsibility for marine and national parks, my consideration is the safety of users at Canal Rocks boat ramp which is located in a marine park and abuts a national park,” he said.

Vasse MP Libby Mettam said the decision to close down the boat ramp, was made, with little consideration on the impact it would have on the community.

Ms Mettam said the decision was made as it was the easiest and cheapest answer to address the safety issues.

“This ramp, like many others along the West Coast experiences large swells at times – that is the nature of the ocean and is part and parcel of living and boating in this part of the world.”

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