The backfilling of the Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour slipway by the Department of Primary Industry – Lands and Water (DPI) has drawn the ire of the new owner of the Brunswick Fish Co-op William Silverman.
Silverman, whose company Whistle Funds Management bought the Brunswick Fish Co-op two years ago then closed it six months ago, believes that the DPI doesn’t have the best interests of Brunswick ‘at heart’.
‘I want them to upgrade it,’ said Silverman who has plans to develop an exclusive Brunswick Seafood brand and would like to see more than 200 tonnes of seafood processed through his site at Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour in the future.
While the draft Brunswick master plan is yet to be finalised, go on public display or receive public comment a DPI spokesperson said ‘Removal of the slipway is shown in a stakeholder-preferred layout which was agreed to in September 2016 as part of the Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour Master Plan.’
However, Silverman disagrees with how the plans are proceeding and believes that the DPI ‘are trying to sideline people like ourselves who have something really positive to contribute.’
‘I’m asking why don’t they invest in it?’ continued Silverman.
‘There is a shortage of slipways and as they state in their policy there is nothing else between Ballina and Tweed. They are getting ahead of the master plan, nothing else has been approved.
‘This is the perfect opportunity to make Brunswick Harbour what it should be. In the last six months we have been excluded from the master plan process. Crown Lands has their agenda that is part of a state wide plan based on improving the quality and value of Crown land.’
However, a DPI spokesperson has said that, ‘Reclaiming land around the disused slipway is the first step in improving public access and amenity to the Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour.’
They have pointed out that the slipway has not been used since 2005, stating that ‘the area is in need of rehabilitation to improve public safety and access.’
Local yachtsman David Kolb has said that there has been interest from other parties to get the slipway reinstated but that it does not appear to be cost effective given the number of boats that use the harbour.
‘Brunswick River is more like a tidal estuary,’ said Mr Kolb.
‘The majority of the community are happy with a haul out pad’, he said, that would allow boats to be lifted out of the water by crane.
This was also confirmed by local environmental activist Dean Jefferys who has kept his conservation yacht Migaloo 2 in Brunswick harbour for the past seven years. Jefferys highlighted the pollution caused by the antifouling agents used to clean boats and the potential negative impact this would have on the sensitive ecology of the Brunswick River.
The DPI confirmed that that the draft masterplan will on display and open for comment in the coming months. Find more information on the master plan process including records of planning workshops and consultation, as well as consultant reports, online here.