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Support for dredging, but long-term answer needed

Fishing Guru Barry McDade worries a surfer will be injured as Sandbar moves swell into the path.
Fishing Guru Barry McDade worries a surfer will be injured as Sandbar moves swell into the path. Cade Mooney

REGULAR users of the Mooloolah River mouth have praised the emergency dredging program which has reopened the channel in a matter of days.

But they say there are still worries about the long-term outlook.

Only last weekend trawler operators warned the Coast might lose their multi-million-dollar industry if a long-term solution could not be found to the river mouth silting up.

Dredging has since removed huge volumes of sand and the channel is now able to be used again.

Mooloolaba Coast Guard Commander John Annabel said the situation was much better, but he still had reservations about the future.

"It is good now and getting better but it was getting pretty bad before the storm and once the storm hit the passage was effectively closed for days," he said.

"We had to close down our normal operations except for emergencies.

"There we no training runs, it wasn't worth the risk.

"Commercial fisherman will be delighted but holding reservations at the same time, they know it's a matter of time until the issue comes up again."

Top Catch Charters skipper Trent Sammon was yesterday on only his second trip offshore since the storm clogged the rivermouth.

"It's a lot better," he said.

"I think it's only the second or third day the big red dredge (the Port Frederick) has been up here and it's good value - the passage is better already.

"The 1.5-2m swells were difficult to get out in and we've got similar conditions today and it's a nice safe passage in and out of the river."

But Mr Sammon also remained sceptical about the longer term.

"As soon as the red dredge disappears and we get one or two big weather systems, the mouth will be all silted up again."

Mr Annabel said he believed the best chance to find a permanent solution was to fine tune the sand pump station to ensure it was picking up at the right place to combat the shifting silt.

"They need to get the sand pump picking up at the right spot just around the corner of the wall, until then they need to keep Port Frederick here to ensure the entrance stays open," Mr Annabel said.

Mr Sammon praised a change in tactic, with the sand dump taking place further north than previously.

"They're currently dumping the sand up in front of the Alex rocks, so at least they're trying something different this time.

"It was pretty positive seeing a trawler at dead low tide heading straight out over the bar yesterday (Saturday) afternoon."

Topics:  dredging, mooloolaba


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