The Reef Marina proposes the development of an exciting new ‘Seafood & Fishing Precinct’ to preserve and grow the Port Douglas fishing industry. The precinct will feature the sale of fresh and cooked seafood to locals and visitors, and the construction of a dedicated trawler berthing facility.

The Reef Marina’s waterfront masterplan, which is currently before Douglas Shire Council, has been developed after extensive consultation with the fishing industry and other stakeholders. To accommodate trawler customers, the marina has offered various alternatives: – remain in the current location on Dickson Inlet; relocate to the Duck Pond adjacent to the proposed Public Plaza; or relocate to the southern end of the marina basin and partner in the development of a new ‘Seafood & Fishing Precinct’.

A Seafood & Fishing Precinct will be a tourism drawcard for Port Douglas and promote growth of the local fishing industry. Under the proposal, the marina will construct a dedicated trawler berthing facility which will be leased to the fishermen on a long-term basis. The fishing industry will seek to procure the adjacent land (Lot 96) from which to sell fresh and cooked seafood and to support trawler operations. This land is currently controlled by Council.

Representatives of the fishing industry, at a meeting in November last year, unanimously resolved that the Seafood & Fishing Precinct would be in the industry’s best interests.

To progress the Precinct, the marina stands ready and willing to construct the trawler berthing facility and to lease it long-term to the fishing industry on favourable commercial terms. This commitment is independent of the waterfront renewal project and will also be the catalyst for The Reef Marina’s important stage 2 expansion.

The marina is also delighted that, having previously rejected a similar proposal last year (see, the Douglas Shire Council has now thrown its support behind the Seafood & Fishing Precinct. The Council has a vital role to play in securing the land for the fishing industry.

The Reef Marina has made a huge investment in purchasing the marina basin and improving it. It is therefore regrettable that Council now proposes the marina pay to construct the trawler berthing facility and then give it – together with the surrounding marina basin – at no cost to the Council and/or fishing industry. This is not a reasonable proposal. Notwithstanding the importance of the fishing industry, it is not the Council’s role to use ratepayers’ money to subsidise private fishing businesses; nor to compel the marina to subsidise private fishing businesses. The Councillors’ heavy-handed approach risks further damaging already-fragile business confidence within the Douglas Shire.

The Reef Marina is committed to the preservation and growth of the fishing industry and believes a privately funded and commercially viable Seafood & Fishing Precinct is the best way to achieve this important goal. Until it is realised, the marina’s trawler customers are invited to remain within the existing marina berthing facilities.