UPDATE, as at 9 February, 2021: Construction halted from Christmas to mid-January to allow for the existing boating facilities to be used during the peak period. Construction resumed in mid-January, with the ramp set to be opened in April, 2021.
In welcome news for South West recfishers, the upgraded Canal Rocks boat ramp and jetty near Yallingup will be ‘launch-ready’ by the end of January, according to a joint media release from Environment Minister Stephen Dawson and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland welcomed news of the speedy delivery of the much-needed upgraded boat ramp facility – particularly after the ramp had been earmarked for permanent closure by the Government three years ago provoking an angry community backlash.
Dr Rowland said: “We’re delighted the Government is now promising a high-quality boat ramp at Canal Rocks will be built and be ready for use by the end of January.
“It’s a big win for people power knocking back a big threat to fishing access on the western side of the cape.
“It’s been great to work alongside the community to help make this happen and credit to the Government to have the common sense to listen and back in this new boat ramp upgrade.”
The tender for the work to replace the current decaying ramp and jetty has been awarded to Advanteering Civil Engineers, who have a track record of delivering quality boat ramp upgrades including those at Point Peron, Point Walter and Palm Beach.
Hugely improved facilities
Specifications for the new Canal Rocks facility are a huge improvement on the existing facility with the planned newly aligned boat ramp to be complemented by a 1.8m-wide, wheelchair accessible jetty that extends 48m seaward.
The $1.6 million upgrade has been designed to address the safety concerns previously raised by emergency services and other users of the old facility.
The local recfishing community places great value in having a functioning boat ramp at Canal Rocks as it gives fishers direct access to launch boats on the westerly side of Cape Naturaliste into oceanic waters.
It also plays a critical role in fishing and boating safety allowing Naturaliste Volunteer Marine Rescue vessels to respond much quicker to emergencies in open ocean than if they had to launch from Geographe Bay and steam around the cape.
Work on the upgrade is scheduled to start in November, which disappointingly for local and visiting fishers means the existing ramp will be closed until January to allow construction of the new facility to take place.
However, “works are due to start early [November] with the site ready for use towards the end of January 2021″, the Ministers’ media release clearly states.
The start of works on the facility upgrade represents a dramatic turn-around from 2017, when the Government announced the ramp was slated for permanent closure.
People power wins the fight for fishing access
The announcement prompted a huge local community backlash and in October, 2017, hundreds of passionate recfishers and community members rallied at Canal Rocks to voice their strong opposition to the planned closure.
Both community and Recfishwest campaigned hard to keep the ramp open prompting an independent risk assessment of the structure, which in March last year recommended the Canal Rocks boat ramp remain open for public use.
“With recfishers spending $2.4 billion on fishing every year, this is exactly the kind of fishing infrastructure upgrade our community deserves.
“Given there’s relatively few decent facilities like the one earmarked at Canal Rocks along our expansive coastline – we want to see more of them,” Dr Rowland said.
“As the peak recfishing body, we will continue to work hard to make sure more boat ramps are kept open, expanded, upgraded and maintained to a high standard.”