RECREATIONAL fishers have echoed calls from Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, for boaters to adhere to speed and wash restrictions which have recently caused damage to local oyster leases.
Mr Bromhead’s warning follows a recent incident in Wallis Lake in which wash from a vessel permanently damaged several oyster leases causing an estimated $14,000 in damage to two separate oyster farms.
Some of the oysters which were upturned into the lake have since been recovered by scuba divers.
“Large wash can upturn oyster trays or push oysters off the trays into the water, which is what happened at the weekend,” Mr Bromhead said at the time.
“At this stage in the three-year production cycle, oysters are only months away from being ready for consumption. Oyster growers cannot insure against incidents like this.”
Mr Bromhead reminded skippers that the creation of wash, waves and turbulence in navigable waters which causes unreasonable impact or damage could result in an on-the-spot fine of up to $500, or up to $5500 if dealt with by a court.
“A tip for larger boats is to slow down and drive to the conditions and remember wash also includes the unbroken surge of pressure waves sometimes created behind larger cruising boats,” Mr Bromhead said.
“As a rule of thumb if your boat is making waves larger than what you might reasonable expect in an area from wind or swell then there is a high risk you might be causing a problem.”
The incident came as no surprise to a local kayak fisher, who did not want to be named, who says boats show a complete disregard for people on smaller craft.
“As a kayaker who fishes, I can understand fully how this can happen, as boats pretty well always go past us as if we are not there,” the fisher said.
“The rules which state the distances that boats should keep from other vessels, whether a kayak or boat or even structure, are rarely adhered to, even in four knot zones like Breckenridge Channel.”
The fisher has witnessed a disregard for the rules in and around the oyster leases first hand.
“I was almost smashed up against the corner of a lease when an inconsiderate boatie cut the corner to go between two leases, coming within spitting distance of me and nearly knocked me off my kayak into the lease fence. He did not slow down or stop to make sure that I wasn’t in real difficulties or show any concern whatsoever. I wonder if he got his licence from a pack of cereal, if indeed he had one at all.”
When driving a vessel at a speed of 10 knots or more or towing a person, drivers must keep the vessel and the person being towed a minimum distance of 30 metres from power-driven vessels, any moored vessel, land and structures including jetties, bridges, moorings and navigation markers.
They must keep 60 metres from persons or non-powered vessels (sailing and passive) that are underway. There is no speed limit in ‘no-wash’ zones where boats must create no wash at all.