VRFish, the recreational fishing peak body representing more than 838000 Victorian fishers, is concerned the rights of fishers, campers and regional communities could be under threat from a River Red Gum Parks Draft Management Plan.
VRFish chair Robert Loats said the draft plan contained several contradictory statements that permit practices such as dispersed camping and campfires, then followed with statements to restrict them.
‘‘It goes against VRFish’s consultation with Parks Victoria prior to the release of the draft plan,’’ Mr Loats said.
‘‘We were assured that current dispersed camping opportunities and campfire regulations would not be changed.’’
The draft plan proposes to implement strategies such as the delineation of camping areas and forcing users to book a campsite in some areas.
VRFish will raise its concerns and seek clarification directly with Parks Victoria before finalising its submission and communicating back to the fishing community.
‘‘We believe the Victorian community has a right to enjoy camping beside a warm campfire, to cook a camp oven meal and enjoy the tranquil surrounds of the mighty Murray River while having a fish,’’ Mr Loats said.
He said further assurance was provided that current boating access opportunities would remain and where possible enhanced.
‘‘Instead, the draft plan proposes boating restrictions on several waters, including the Ovens River and Gunbower Creek, without any explanation.’’
Cobram Outdoor and Disposal Store owner Sam Kennedy said the key issue was the future impact on the town of Cobram.
‘‘It’s going to impact on the freedom of camping here,’’ he said.
‘‘And it will have a big downturn on the livelihood of the businesses here — and also the lifestyle of the community.
‘‘It’s a very big issue and this first progression of it may not be the end of camping here, but it’s certainly the start of the end.
‘‘This is happening.’’
Other residents have also expressed concern about the plans to restrict access to beach and camping areas near Cobram.
VRFish urges all fishers, campers, regional communities and users of Victoria’s river red gum parks to obtain a copy of the draft management plan that is open for public comment until September 30.
Public submissions are invited.
Victoria’s river red gum parks cover more than 100 parks and reserves and 215000ha along the Murray, Goulburn and Ovens rivers, extending from the South Australian border to Wodonga.
Parks Victoria will hold a public meeting from 4pm to 6pm on Monday, September 18 at Cobram Civic Centre to discuss park implementation issues and fishing, boating and camping restrictions on the Murray River.