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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is appealing for the State and Federal Governments to work together and fund a dredging program in Loch Sport for the safety of the boating community.

Mr Chester inspected the public jetty near the marina this week and said “it’s more of a carpark than a place to moor boats”.

“The excessive build-up of sand alongside the jetty is creating a safety risk and economic losses for the nearby hotel,” Mr Chester said.

“The sand deposits have made the berthing facilities unusable, preventing larger boat operators from accessing a safe harbour in an emergency situation on the popular Gippsland Lakes.

“The jetty was also a critical asset during the recent bushfire emergency with food supplies and a portable generator transported across the lakes system to be unloaded at this point because the only access road was closed.

“If the asset isn’t properly maintained to ensure navigable access for larger craft, the community fears it will be isolated in any future event which impacts road access.”

Mr Chester said the tourism industry was suffering because larger boat operators had nowhere to moor their vessels and visit the town’s only hotel.

“Loch Sport relies heavily on the visitor economy and it is ridiculous to build a recreational boating asset and then fail to keep it navigable for the intended users,” Mr Chester said.

“It is my understanding that Gippsland Ports is the responsible agency but has no capacity to undertake the required dredging and remediation works because of the State Government’s failure to provide sufficient funding for its ongoing operations.

“Given the importance of this asset, in terms of disaster resilience and regional economic development, both the State and Federal Governments could provide the $350,000 needed to allow the community to regain access to the jetty.”

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