by Liz McKinnon
Fisherman can now launch their boats in Portland Bay without the long wait following the official opening of a new $1.98 million four lane boat ramp.
Premier Napthine with Glenelg Shire Mayor Cr John Northcott, Shire CEO Sharon Kelsey, and Member for Western Victoria David O'Brien.
Premier and Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine today joined local fisherman to open the ramp which marks the final stage in the $7.1 million Portland Harbour upgrade. The transformation includes a 70-berth marina, new access road and boat ramp apron, improved car and trailer parking, in addition to on-shore infrastructure.
'As one of Australia’s premier fishing locations, Portland is now better prepared than ever for the influx of fisherman who travel from all corners of the country for the lucrative tuna catch each year,' Dr Napthine said.
'Boats and vehicles lining Bentinck Street had become a common scene as anglers raced to hit the water. This boat ramp is a key piece of infrastructure which will reduce this wait as it will be able to handle up to 300 boats a day during the peak fishing season, allowing for better and safer foreshore traffic flow.
'Portland’s Southern Bluefin tuna fishery injects up to $9 million into the local economy annually with up to 90 per cent of the nation’s recreational blue fin tuna caught in these waters.
'It attracts thousands of visitors to the region each and every year and the addition of this boat ramp will only see this number grow.
'This harbour redevelopment is providing for this growing tourism industry, allowing more boats to enter and exit the water at the same time, reducing the bottle necks experienced in the past which is welcome news for the region.'
The Portland Harbour Project was jointly funded by the Victorian Government, which invested $5.1 million and the Glenelg Shire Council, which contributed a further $1.9 million.
The ramp has been delivered as part of the Victorian Government’s Boating Safety and Facilities Program, which included $1.98 million in funding. The initiative plays an important role in making boating safer and more accessible for all Victorians.
Dr Napthine said the new boat ramp would ensure more fisherman visited the region.
'These improved facilities will make Portland, more than ever, a desirable location for recreational fisherman to visit and cast a line. The tuna is biting and the wait to enter the water is now reduced as these four lanes will provide a safe and more efficient way for anglers to get their vessels on the water,' Dr Napthine said.
'Overall this Portland Harbour upgrade provides state of the art facilities to support new tourism opportunities from recreational fishing charters, eco-tourism to cruise ships. It is already having a positive impact on the community and I trust this will continue to grow with further developments planned for this popular foreshore area in the future.'