Corowa business owners fear tourist numbers will drop dramatically if the proposed trial ban on wake enhancing boating activities is enforced between Bundalong and Corowa.
There are fresh concerns that if the river closure or banning of wakeboard boating is successful that it will be rolled out on a broader scale.
With this is mind residents from Corowa and surrounding towns are being encouraged to attend an information session on Thursday at the town’s Memorial Hall to receive up-to-date information and express any concerns.
According to Maverick Marine Corowa Owners David and Doug Walton, there have even been reports of accommodation cancellations following the proposed ban.
“We have already heard of accommodation cancellations in Bundalong … this is the last thing we want,” Doug told the Free Press.
“This particular ban would have major ramifications on many businesses in town.
“For us, the less people that come to town means the less people that need our services and campers who come here spend their money in the town and we can’t afford to drive them away.”
Doug believes the degradation to the banks is caused by the river height not by the wakeboard boats and his concern is that the ban will eventually extend to ski boats.
“If they ban the wakeboards and it is for two years and then the banks still break down, then they are going to ban ski boats,” he said.
“This means that the whole of the Murray River at some stage in the next five years is going to end up four knots.”
Both Doug and David are members of the Save the Boating on the Murray Group who have come up with a draft activity zone plan which aims at establishing a more cohesive plan along the river, taking into account all boating users.
The committee welcomes suggestions and comments regarding the activity plan.
Residents are urged to have their say at Corowa’s information session to be held on Thursday, February 15 between 6pm to 8pm at the Memorial Hall in Sanger Street.
Corowa Caravan Park Owner Karen Dunstan plans to be at the Corowa meeting and is keen to hear the views of those in the community.
“I hope they have some good information that says it is the boats that are causing this to happen, not just the river rising and lowering all the time because we want proof,” she said.
“There’s been a lot of talk around the town on this issue.
“If they stop wake boarding in particular then we are going to lose a lot of tourists.”
Mrs Dunstan is also concerned that the ban could extend to ski boats.
“That would kill the area, to be honest,” she said.
RMS General Manger Operations Policy and Performance David Hunter made reference to the trial boating plan starting later than the proposed Easter date when he spoke at the recent Bundalong information session.
He told the crowd of more than 200 residents that it was important to get the plan right and that the start date would more likely be in the May, June or July period.
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy said at the meeting that a suggestion of narrowing restrictions down to a couple of sections along the river between Corowa and Bundalong was welcomed and that may be a more appropriate measure.
Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke told the Free Press earlier this year that the Murray River health is very important to all people who live along it.
“The river plays an important part in our lifestyle and the viability of all our communities situated along it,” he said.
“Therefore this issue is very close and very important to us and we want to achieve the right outcomes for all.”
Mayor Bourke said it is imperative any evidence and science used to make decisions is factual and relevant to the actual locations and boating uses in question.
“I believe the best approach is to roll out more education on responsible boating in our communities,” he said.
“Banning boating in any form will only have major and far-reaching socio economic impacts on this region.