Anglers cast reasons to stay put

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HASTINGS MP Neale Burgess, right, is backing Westernport Angling Club’s bid to retain its near-waterside position on the foreshore.

WESTERN Port Angling Club members met last week to hear an update on their fight against the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s plans to move their clubhouse away from the water.

About 70 people attended, including Boating Industry Association representative Ben Scullin, VR Fish representative Franz Grasser, Hastings MP Neale Burgess, angling club members, Bass Strait Game Fishing Club and Hastings Yacht Club.

Mr Burgess is backing the club’s push to remain on the foreshore.

Members are angry that the club building, public toilets and grassed area used for the annual whiting challenge presentation since the late 1980s will make way for a road and boat trailer parking as shown in the 2017 draft Hastings foreshore precinct plan.

The new parking plan will be released on 20 June and go before a council meeting on 26 June for decision.

Club members are aware that the Victorian Coastal Strategy 2014 states that foreshore buildings must have “a demonstrated need to be located on the coast”.

Committee member Don Newman said the draft Hastings foreshore plan states that fishing events and associated barbecues, although “driven” by having boating access to Western Port, “are not a direct result of where the angling club is located”.

“Gatherings can occur regardless of this facility due to convenient open space access, and storage is not a key requirement in this location,” the draft plan states.

Mr Newman said the shire had said it would prefer the club to relocate to another, unidentified building “somewhere in Hastings”.

“Rumours exist that the Community Hub facility near Kings Creek Hotel would be high on the shire’s list,” he said.

“Hastings Bowling Club and Hastings Tennis Club are also on the foreshore reserve. Do they have “a demonstrated need to be located on the coast?”

The club has drawn up its own boat trailer parking plan which retains the existing club building, public toilets and grassed picnic area. It has up to 80 parking bays for trailers and four disabled trailer bays on bitumen, as well as overflow parking on grass for up to 130 trailers to cater for more recreational boaters on busy days.

Mr Newman said angling club members “oppose any move away from the boat ramp area as we need 24/7 access to allow members to weigh fish after returning to shore and close proximity to the cleaning table so members can clean and fillet their catch after weighing it”.

The members want parking for 10-15 vehicles, boats and trailers at the weigh-in for 15-20 competitions each year, and adequate parking for 50-100 vehicles with boats and trailers, plus a suitable grassed area for 300-500 spectators at major public competitions and presentations, such as the whiting challenge and game fishing tournaments.

Other “wants” cover power, scales, lighting, public access system, cool room food and drink storage, water, kitchen, public toilets, shelter and storage for valuable raffle prizes, including a boat, motor and trailer.

Members say a liquor licence is needed for four meetings a month for anglers and game fishers. A seniors’ competition is held each week and members have guest speaker nights. Revenue from the bar is a major source of club revenue.

Also required is a defibrillator which is now in the weigh station and a long-term lease to give the club stability and the ability to extend to care for increased membership and storage of club property.

Mr Newman said the state government under The Target One Million and Stronger Fishing Clubs Grants scheme had previously granted the club $2000 for improvements to its club rooms and the installation of a defibrillator and first aid training of club members.

First published in the Western Port News – 5 June 2018

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