Analysis of Coastal Recreational Fishing Facilities June 2011
Cheryl Reed, Mandy Healy, Chris Healy
This document is the TNS Australia report of the Analysis of the Coastal Recreational Fishing Facilities project for the Victorian Government Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (the department) former Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
Aims of the research
The department commissioned TNS Australia to undertake an analysis of Victorian coastal recreational fishing facilities outside Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay to determine the availability of infrastructure and facilities and unmet needs. This study was funded through a Victorian Recreational Fishing Grants Program.
The data for analysis presented in this report was drawn from across different research activities, including:
- A review of literature and policy related to recreational fishing in Victoria to provide an introduction to the project and information on the government structures and policy which support recreational salt water fishing.
- A series of consultations undertaken from June to August 2010 to provide stakeholder perspectives on issues related to coastal fishing infrastructure and facilities with government departments and agencies and recreational fishing industry organisations with state wide jurisdictions and/or memberships. Consultations were also undertaken with regional stakeholders including tackle shop operators, fishers, angling club members, local shires and coastal board representatives. In addition, commentary from the consultations undertaken with stakeholders in attendance at the department's Regional Fisheries Roundtables in May and June 2010 was also included within the analysis.
- An audit of all facilities relevant to recreational fishing at 75 selected Victorian coastal and estuarine recreational fishing sites during August and September 2010. The audit included locations west of Queenscliff to the South Australian border (the west coast) and east of Phillip Island to the New South Wales border (the east coast) and did not include any sites within Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay.
- Intercept surveys with 43 fishers at fishing sites when the audit was conducted. The average length of interview was 5 minutes.
- An online survey of 3,085 current holders of fishing licences on the department database. The survey was approximately 10 minutes long and including both open and closed questions. Licence holders were eligible to complete the questionnaire if they were a salt water recreational fisher who has fished in the last 12 months or intended to fish in the next ten years.
General findings and conclusions
SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE OF FISHING
In Victoria, recreational fishing is an increasingly popular activity with significant cultural, social and historic significance. There is evidence that Victorian coastal communities are highly likely to continue to experience increases in population as Victorians seek to live in coastal communities. The availability of access to recreational fishing is a major driver of this movement and likely to lead to increased demand for access to fishing facilities and infrastructure into the future. At present access to the coast is limited by barriers such as poor quality ramps, lack of ramps and lack of parking facilities.
INCREASED FUTURE NEEDS
Concern about the accessibility of infrastructure and facilities is a major factor inhibiting people from fishing more often. This is likely to increase in the future unless access to coastal waters is improved. The increased demand along the coast is the result of population growth, expansion of the urban growth corridors east and west, movement of metropolitan fishers along the coast to escape overcrowded bay facilities, increasing interest in fishing and the increased purchase of recreational boats and a growing trend towards larger sized boats. The need for sufficient parking with the capacity to accommodate trailers is an unmet need that is very likely to increase into the future. This is exacerbated by a lack of coordination across locations and likely to increase over time unless a coordinated approach to future planning is adopted.
ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF FISHING
Recreational fishing makes a significant contribution to the Victorian economy overall with particular contributions to regional areas. Ernst and Young (2009)1 estimated that recreational fishing added $825 million to the Victorian Gross State Product (GSP) and contributed 5,200 jobs to Victoria. Ernst and Young (2009) estimated that the value of the recreational fishing industry to Victoria over the next 20 years to be $10.6 billion. However, it is clear from the present study that for the potential economic impacts of recreational fishing to be achieved significant improvement in Victorian infrastructure (in particular access to boat ramps) is required to accommodate current and future increases in demand.
The present study found that the economic benefits to Victoria are likely to be lost as fishers are deterred from fishing due to difficulties access boat ramps and seek to fish interstate where access to high quality facilities such as boat ramps and parking is more available.
REGULATION OF THE COAST AND FACILITIES
The present study found that the current approach to the regulation and management of the coast and coastal facilities, resulted in a barrier to the needs of recreational fishers.
While recreational fishing in Victoria is supported and managed by a range of government policies and strategies relating to the use of the coast, these are extremely complex, involving multiple jurisdictions, management structures, policies and strategies.
LACK OF ACCESS POINTS AND POOR QUALITY FACILITIES
Evidence was presented throughout the research indicating that the quality and number of locations where fishers can safely launch their boats was inadequate to address current and future demand. While access was most problematic along the west coast there were also issues along the east coast with calls for increased access points at Port Welshpool and the need for improved quality of access at Cape Patterson. The west coast was generally found to have the most significant issues with poor quality facilities and poorly distributed facilities with few access points. This most acutely noted between Torquay to Anglesea where there was a clear deficit in access points and, where there were access points, there required significant improvement.
LACK OF PARKING NEAR BOAT RAMPS
The need for improved access to parking near ramps was consistently raised as a key issue in deterring people from fishing. This was also seen as a key safety issue with general agreement that it was unacceptable to expect fishers to launch a boat then leave it to seek a parking spot some distance away. There was considerable concern that even when boat ramps and surrounds were being redeveloped, there was still sufficient access to parking (i.e. Portland).
IMPROVE THE BALANCE BETWEEN ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND COMMUNITY NEEDS
There were concerns about the future of recreational fishing with an increased environmental focus from some levels of government and some coastal management stakeholders. In some locations, environmental interest groups played a significant role in local coastal management bodies. In one case these stakeholders were open about seeking to limit recreational fishing in their areas and having no desire to improve the quality of coastal fishing facilities. A more balanced approach is required to ensure that future Victorians continue to have the opportunity to safely enjoy recreational fishing. It is also important that the broader economic and social interests of the Victorian community are considered in the planning and management of coastal facilities.
GREATER INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT
Both government and industry stakeholders indicated a need for increased engagement between government and the recreational fishing community. This included increased opportunities and support to encourage fishers to participate on coastal boards, decision making bodies and in consultations with government departments such as Parks Victoria. The positive relationship between recreational fishers and the department Fisheries was consistently mentioned by industry stakeholders and seen as a model for improving stakeholder engagement. Both government and industry stakeholders felt there was a need for efforts to improve the image of fishing and fishers and to better recognise their efforts in promoting sustainability and environmental responsibility.
West coast findings
Victoria's west coast extends from Queenscliff to the South Australia border. This area has few natural harbours or barriers to protect the coast and is renowned for its steep cliffs which limit access to the coast. Both these challenges, the lack of natural protection and difficulties of access, pose significant obstacles to the planning and development of infrastructure in the region. The Western Coastal Board (WCB) oversees strategic coastal and marine planning issues in the region. The region includes the municipalities of Surf Coast, Colac-Otway, Corangamite, Moyne and Glenelg, and the City of Warrnambool. The coastal sections of the Corangamite and Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority regions are also included.
The following general conclusions are made across the west coast:
- Poor quality facilities and infrastructure were most apparent in the west coast – Those facilities available in the west coast received poorer ratings of quality than those in the east coast. This was supported by stakeholder consultations and the broader surveys of fishers.
- There are insufficient access points to the west coast – The west coast lacked a sufficient number of safe access points to the water, spaced appropriately to meet the community demand. Government stakeholders expressed concern that the current number of safe access points would continue to be problematic as the population increased in the future. There was significant concern about the personal safety of fishers launching boats from unsafe locations because suitable locations to launch were too far away. Related to this was concern about the distance between ramps along the west coast and the need for increased ramps to ensure a timely response to emergencies at sea.
- Quality of boat launching facilities – There was considerable concern about the quality of existing boat launching facilities. Many along the west coast are not protected from the sea, and are poorly maintained. The current quality of boat ramps was generally seen as in need of improvement by stakeholders and they were rated more poorly than the east coast facilities.
- Lack of parking facilities– Lack of parking facilities near launching points and other infrastructure was a key concern throughout all stages of the research. Even at some west coast locations where some improvements had occurred, such as Portland, there remained concerns about the lack of consideration given to parking in redevelopment of the site.
- Accommodating larger boats – a large number of existing facilities were seen as being unsuitable for larger recreational boats which were increasingly becoming more common. This was seen as a significant safety risk and a factor driving fishers to interstate locations.
NEED BY REGION
This section contains general information about the need for facilities and infrastructure in each western coastal region. Specific information about each site is included in the Site Audit Report which accompanies this report.
Queenscliff to Anglesea
This was the most visited area along the west coast which is not surprising given its proximity to Geelong and surrounding growth corridors. General areas for review included:
- Poor quality of ramps and facilities at Torquay and Anglesea
- Increase the quality of access points and ramps in the region
- Urgent need for improved capacity of boat ramps further along the west coast to supplement the high usage at Queenscliff
- Lack of boat ramps particularly between Torquay to Anglesea
- The urgent need for boat ramps to accommodate larger recreational boats (above 5.5 meters)
- Need for safe harbour between Queenscliff and Apollo Bay
- The urgent need for additional parking to accommodate boat trailers, Torquay and Anglesea being priority areas
- Improving vehicle access to boat ramps such as improved road surfaces
- Need for additional cleaning tables and access to running water
- Improving signage to boat launching facilities and coastal access points
Airey's Inlet to Port Campbell
Fishing facilities available at sites audited from Airey's Inlet to Port Campbell and immediate surrounds were more limited than from Queenscliff to Anglesea and immediate surrounds. General areas for review included:
- Need for additional parking
- Improving accessibility to fishing areas, including availability and signage
- Need for additional toilets at Apollo Bay where there is currently only a single portable toilet
- Improving remote viewing opportunities.
Peterborough to Port Fairy
Overall, the sites audited from Peterborough to Port Fairy and immediate surrounds were in good condition. General areas for review included:
- Better vehicle access to boat ramps and entrances to boat launching areas
- Peterborough's Bay of Islands boat ramp is in adequate condition but inaccessible to many inexperienced boaters due to steepness and the need for a four-wheel drive
- Improve remote viewing opportunities via way of live streaming cameras providing assessment of ocean conditions.
Yambuk to Nelson
From Yambuk to Nelson and immediate surrounds, the audit indicated that there was less fishing infrastructure available for use compared to other fishing sites along the west coast. General areas for review included:
- Increasing the capacity of the planned new ramp at Portland
- Increasing the available parking
- Improving vehicle access to boat ramps, jetties beside boat ramps to support launching and entrances to boat launching areas.
East coast findings
Victoria's east coast extends from Phillip Island to the New South Wales border. The region includes the municipalities of Bass, South Gippsland, Wellington and East Gippsland. The key findings by region are presented below.
NEED BY REGION
This section contains general information about the need for facilities and infrastructure in each eastern coastal region. Specific information by site is included in the Site Audit Report which accompanies this report. This report contains information on existing boat ramps; however, it is important to note that there was significant interest for increased boat launching facilities at Port Welshpool.
Phillip Island to Inverloch
The infrastructure and facilities available at sites audited from Phillip Island to Inverloch and immediate surrounds varied from location to location. General areas for review included: Cape Paterson and Inverloch had limited facilities and boats were restricted to beach launching, with tides and swells adding a further restriction on boat suitability for launch and retrieval Need for vehicle access to boat ramps and removal of sand build up on beach launching ramps General maintenance in some areas – lack of running water, cleaning tables, entrance paths ill defined, clearing of entrances to boat launching areas etc
Increased parking and existing car parks need better signage and line marking Improved quality of toilets and lighting.
Anderson Inlet to Metung
The condition of the facilities audited from Anderson Inlet to Metung and immediate surrounds varied. All boat ramps at sites audited in this area were in good condition. General areas for review included:
- Few sites had cleaning tables or running water
- Signage was lacking at some sites
- Need for more toilets
- Lighting, parking and cameras did not meet fishers' expectations.
Lakes Entrance to Cape Conran
All the sites audited from Lakes Entrance to Cape Conran and immediate surrounds had a boat ramp in good condition. General areas for review included:
- Improved signage at ramps and jetties
- At Brodribb River, a popular launching area, the quality of the access road, toilets, running water, current signage, lighting and picnic facilities were in a poor condition
- Cameras online for remote viewing did not meet fishers expectations
- There were general concerns over facilities frequently used such as parking and toilets.
Bemm River to Mallacoota
The infrastructure and facilities at sites audited from Bemm River to Mallacoota and immediate
surrounds varied from location to location. Most sites audited had recreational facilities such as toilets, picnic tables and barbecues. General areas for review included:
- Need for more fishing related facilities such as cleaning tables with running water
- Maintenance to remove a build up of silt under some boat ramps making launching and retrieval difficult for fishers
- Lack of informative signage available for recreational fishers
- Need for improved vehicle access to boat ramps and more parking nearby.
RECOMMENDATION 1: PRIORITY LOCATIONS WITH ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED.
A number of specific sites are in need of improvement to ensure the accessibility and, in some cases safety of recreational fishers. The audit conducted as a part of this study found that the west coast was most significantly under resourced and under-maintained compared with the east coast sites audited. However, a number of sites in the east coast were also identified as being in need of improved maintenance (for example Cape Patterson Boat ramp surface). Locations identified from the audit as being in need of immediate attention to ensure that the boat ramps are fit for purpose were:
- Old Anglesea boat ramp is no longer publicly accessible due to the current caravan park operation
- Point Roadknight Boat Ramp was rated as not fit for purpose and requires immediate resurfacing among other improvements to the site and facilities to ensure that it addresses the current and projected needs
- Parking has been assessed as inadequate for both off-peak and peak summer times
- There are no other protected designated launch facilities to accommodate the current needs of the community
- Lack of surrounding facilities to address needs
- Lack of capacity to manage future community needs.
- There is a lack of parking and this has a significant impact on the local community as well as fishers. Lack of parking at this location is reported to be a strong deterrent to usage and affects accessibility of the ramp. This is most acute during summer and weekends when the demand for this location is extremely high.
- Port Fairy:
- The main ramp at Port Fairy which provides access through the Moyne River is in good condition however an alternative ramp (which provides direct ocean access) was rated as not being fit for purpose and requiring resurfacing and clearing (as well as needing other infrastructure such as signage, parking, paths, toilets etc.). If it is to continue to be open to the public improvement is required. There is also a lack of parking near both ramps.
In addition to the sites identified as not fit for purpose in the site audit other evidence indicated the need for improvement of:
- While the surface of the Torquay ramp was rated as adequate based upon stakeholder feedback it is in need of improvement due to the conditions and lack of protection of this area. Tractors are frequently used to drag boats along the ramp and owners of larger boats (above 5.5 metres) report that this ramp is unusable. Given the demand and likely increased future demand, this area warrants immediate attention.
- Cape Patterson:
- The boat ramp surface is in poor condition and poorly maintained
- A large bend in the ramp makes it difficult to negotiate
- It is not suitable for larger vessels.
RECOMMENDATION 2: INCREASE ONGOING MAINTENANCE
The need for ongoing maintenance of boat ramps is an essential safety requirement in providing facilities and infrastructure for recreational fishers. While it is important to improve overall maintenance of sites, in some cases the lack of attention to boat ramp surfaces, silt build up and degradation presents a hazard to community safety (i.e. Anglesea, Port Fairy, Torquay, Cape Patterson etc.). It is important that responsibility for maintenance is clear and that funding is provided to ensure ongoing maintenance appropriate to the conditions where the facilities and infrastructure are located. For example, the west coast is considerably less protected than the east coast, and may require a different maintenance schedule and increased monitoring.
RECOMMENDATION 3: INCREASE ACCESS TO PARKING
The need for increased access to parking near boat ramps was universally raised as a key issue throughout the research and was a clear deterrent to the number of times people went fishing. This is an important consideration in the development of existing and new sites as the current demand is likely to be exacerbated by projected increases in boat ownership and population increases along the coast. Should lack of parking continue to act as a deterrent to fishing, significant economic benefits to the Victorian economy will be lost.
RECOMMENDATION 4: INCREASE ACCESS POINTS ALONG THE WEST COAST
There is a lack of ocean access points for recreational fishers to launch boats between Torquay to Apollo Bay (with the ramps at Torquay and Anglesea of very poor quality). Given the demand for access points, as indicated in all stages of this research, and the current and projected high usage along this part of the coast, development of additional sites and increased capacity of current sites should be undertaken.
RECOMMENDATION 5: STREAMLINING ACCOUNTABILITY AND CLARIFYING ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
There is a clear need to overcome issues associated with multiple jurisdictions being involved in the development and management of coastal recreational fishing infrastructure and facilities. The areas of accountability need to be immediately clarified to ensure improved monitoring of performance in relation to maintaining the quality of existing facilities and ensuring that they meet community expectations for safety and accessibility.
RECOMMENDATION 6: ESTABLISHMENT OF DESIGN STANDARDS
There is a need for quality standards to be developed to ensure greater consistency in the minimum quality levels expected for infrastructure and facilities and monitoring of maintenance. This would allow for ongoing, objective, systematic monitoring and maintenance of facilities. This would promote access, safety and prevent damage to vehicles, boats and trailers and provide access for larger vessels where required. It would also establish a benchmark and support accountability in the improved management of local fishing facilities.
RECOMMENDATION 7: RECOGNITION OF THE VALUE OF RECREATIONAL FISHING TO VICTORIA
There needs to be a stronger recognition in policy that recreational fishing brings about significant social and economic benefits to the broader Victorian community. Currently, the policy context is complex and open to interpretation because of the number of jurisdictions and agencies involved in the management of the coast. The value of recreational fishing to the state needs to be clearly articulated by government to ensure that there is a balance between recreational fishing interests, environmental and other considerations.
RECOMMENDATION 8: CO-ORDINATED PLANNING FOR FUTURE NEEDS
There is a need for a more co-ordinated state-wide approach to planning future infrastructure and facilities. The present approach tends to focus on local management and lacks a planned approach to addressing future needs of Victorians. Planning decisions at one location impact on usage and access at surrounding locations. Concern about the accessibility of infrastructure and facilities is a major factor inhibiting people from fishing more often and this is likely to be exacerbated if projected increases in demand add pressure to the accessibility and quality of facilities. This will represent a significant social and economic loss to the Victorian economy if a lack of co-ordinated future planning drives fishers to interstate locations.
RECOMMENDATIONS 9: GREATER INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT
There is a clear need for avenues to support the increased input of recreational fishing stakeholders. This includes increased opportunities and support to encourage fishers to participate on coastal boards, decision making bodies and in consultations with government departments such as Parks Victoria. The positive relationship between recreational fishers and department Fisheries should be used as a model for improving stakeholder engagement in all jurisdictions involved in the management of coastal recreational fishing facilities and infrastructure.
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1 Ernst and Young (2009), The Economic Study of Recreational Fishing in Victoria. Available online at VRFish . Accessed November 2010.
2 Glenelg Shire Council has received funding through the Boating Safety and Facilities Program for the installation of finger jetties on the Old Portland boat ramp.