BEACHGOERS could be at risk by changes being brought in by the Department of Transport, according to the Cockburn Aquatic Users Group (CAUG).
CAUG co-ordinator Daryll Smith said advice put forward by the group during the South Metropolitan Aquatic Review was sought by the DoT during the consultation process, yet disregarded when it came to the final plan.
The CAUG features the Jervoise Bay Sailing Club, the Perth Kite Racing Club, the Coogee Masters Swimming Club and Coogee Beach Surf Life Saving Club, among other members, and was formed in direct response to the review of coastline waters between Fremantle and Port Kennedy.
Their concerns centre around a new water-ski area between the north side of the Woodman Point groyne and Port Coogee, and the take-off area for that zone being just south of the Ammunition Jetty.
Mr Smith said having power boats taking off in areas frequented by yachts, swimmers and watercraft paddlers was a “recipe for a major accident”.
“This is an area quite heavily used by (non-motorised vessels), with some 200 yachting activities booked in this area alone in 2015,” he said.
“Increasing the density of water-ski use with the passive area aquatic users is a recipe for a major accident and possibly fatalities.
“There is a lengthy history of power boats towing tubes, creating safety issues for passive aquatic users in this area, and requests for DoT marine safety compliance responses or patrols have been ignored.”
Mr Smith said the boat ramp near Naval Base between Henderson and Kwi-nana would be more suitable.
DoT navigational safety and moorings manager Mark Briant disagreed CAUG’s advice was disregarded, saying every one of the more than 1800 submission was seriously considered.
About 900 supported the proposals, 400 opposed and 500 were on the fence.
Mr Briant also disagreed with the view that safety would be compromised by the change, saying the area of concern was similar to that of Rockingham’s Mangles Bay and other locations where a water-ski area existed along with multiple user groups.
“Shared use of areas works successfully in many locations along the WA coast,” he said.
“The north side of Woodman Point is the preferred option due to the protection provided from the prevailing winds.
“DoT appreciates the views of those who participated in the review and is confident the changes made as a result of the process will significantly improve the safety of aquatic users in the area.”
The changes are scheduled for gazettal on May 31.
Mr Briant said the DoT would focus marine safety compliance patrols in the area to educate the boating community.
Signage and the department’s free boating guide would also be updated to ensure skippers had adequate information about the changes.
Mr Smith said concerned parties were still discussing their options.