Gosford Wharf situation ‘bizarre’

Gosford marina is always at capacity

There is no solution in sight for the ongoing problem of long-term moorings taking up casual berths at Gosford marina, with one boat reported to have been continuously docked at the site for two years.

Central Coast Council says it is up to Marine Rescue to report illegal berthings.

Marine Rescue says reports in recent years have gone unactioned.

Don Hartley from the Hawkesbury area frequently sails the Brisbane Water and says the situation is “bizarre”.

“My understanding is that Council owns this marina,” he said.

“They have valuable property that no one seems to have any jurisdiction over.

“It doesn’t matter what responsibilities they have farmed out – this is still a Council responsibility.”

Hartley said the boating community needs an explanation.

A Council spokesperson said that while Council owns the Gosford wharf, Marine Rescue manages the bookings and collection of fees and reports unpaid fees, abandoned vessels or illegal moorings to Council.

Council relies on Marine Rescue to notify it of any unseaworthy vessels but reports from the public are also investigated.

The spokesperson said Council actively inspects abandoned or illegally moored vessels, or vessels with unpaid fees when they are reported, and will issue penalty notices if appropriate.

“If a vessel is deemed to be unseaworthy and the owner fails to take action, Council will take action,” the spokesperson said.

“There are no current notifications from Marine Rescue to advise Council of any unpaid fees or illegal moorings.

“In 2019, some vessels were impounded and destroyed at Gosford marina in accordance with the Impounding Act 1993.”

Marine Rescue Unit Commander Duncan Coles said it was a difficult situation.

“There are some vessels that have been at the wharf for extended periods of time,” he said.

“This is allowed under the regulations as long as fees are paid and there are no rule infractions including disposal of waste.

“However, there are some vessel owners that simply will not pay the fees and have little regard for the rules.

“There have been in the past written reports to Council regarding some of these vessels.

“This did result in one abandoned vessel being removed and scrapped and another moved on.

“There were also some fines issued by Council, but the fines amounted to less than one week’s rental fee.

“Other vessels mentioned in the reports from Marine Rescue are still on the wharf and no action has been taken.

“Council rangers are well aware of one of the vessels that is in very poor condition and has been on the wharf for some years.

“Council has never approached Marine Rescue to ascertain the status of any vessel on the wharf.

“I would be happy to reinstate written reports to Council on the status of all the vessels if there was some assurance that action would be taken and feedback given.”

Coles said the volunteer organisation was dedicated to saving lives at sea and assisting the boating public in general, relying entirely on donations and community goodwill to continue its work.

“Central Coast Council has been very generous in allowing us to collect and retain most of the fees paid by users of the wharf, but we have no ability to make or enforce any regulations,” he said.

Members of the public can report concerns through the ‘Report an Issue’ icon on Council’s website.

Terry Collins

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