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Boaties on notice as maritime safety agency rolls out river reforms

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The establishment of no-anchoring zones and the removal of derelict and unused vessels are among a host of reforms on the way to the Noosa River.

After introducing six-knot speed zones last year, Maritime Safety Queensland is set to implement further changes during the next year.

No-anchoring zones will be in place from July and a 28-day anchoring restriction will be enforced from June 2025.

Owners of vessels that are unseaworthy or abandoned are required to remove them by August.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish said MSQ was “working hard to tackle the safety and pollution problems associated with the Noosa River”.

“The no-anchoring zone being introduced in July should reduce community concerns and further improve safety for this area,” he said.

The scenic Noosa River can also be a busy place with boats. Picture: Shutterstock

“Boaties and Noosa residents can expect to see MSQ’s officers on the water in the weeks and months ahead, educating boaties about the reforms, establishing navigation aids, assessing moorings and anchored and abandoned vessels, and enforcing safety rules.

“MSQ is conscious there are many vulnerable people who may be affected by these reforms and will be working closely with them to ensure appropriate compliance with the new regulations to ensure their own and the public’s safety.”

The program will see a no-anchoring area applied to 60m from the southern shore of the Noosa River from Noosa Sound to the entrance to Lake Doonella; across Noosa Sound and up to Woods Bay; and the dog beach area south of the river entrance.

Vessels will be able to access the shoreline to set down and pick up passengers, or to access restaurants and other popular areas on land, as long as they comply with the speed limits and do not anchor or cause obstructions or navigation hazards to other waterway users.

Restrictions will be in place, mainly along the southern shoreline of the Noosa River and around Noosa Woods.

Member for Noosa Sandy Bolton said the Noosa River was “the beating heart” of the community.

“However, as visitor numbers have increased over the last decade, so has the need for better management for the safety of all users and for the health of our river,” she said.

“The changes outlined may not be exactly what was sought by some, however sharing space requires some compromise between all who love our river.”

Noosa mayor Frank Wilkie welcomed the changes.

“Reforms to improve the river are long awaited, with safety, congestion and pollution of the river major concerns for our community,” he said.

He congratulated the Noosa River Stakeholder Advisory Committee – which was co-chaired by Noosa Council and MSQ and included a range of river stakeholders – for its work developing the recommendations that underpin the reforms.

“With varied interests in the river they found common ground and put forward well-considered recommendations that now form the basis for the reforms,” he said.

Cr Wilkie said the reforms would improve the health and condition of the river.

The popular Noosa River. Picture: Shutterstock

“We trust that the minister will ensure MSQ is sufficiently resourced to deliver and police the reforms, including removal of derelict and abandoned houseboats if owners either cannot be found or do not act on orders to remove them,” he said.

The mayor said council supported the promised introduction of no-anchoring areas in congested parts of the river and no-anchoring areas for unoccupied vessels over five metres.

“The 28-day anchoring restriction the state has announced for Noosa waterways is also a welcome commitment, providing it is enforced,” he said.

“Our community has waited a long time to see the state take any significant action to address the list of congestion, safety and pollution issues facing Noosa River – one of the busiest in Queensland – so we look forward to seeing the government deliver on all of these commitments in the timeframe promised.”

Noosa River at sunset. Picture: Shutterstock.

The Boating Industry Association also welcomed MSQ’s announcement on the next stages of reforms.

BIA spokesperson Neil Patchett said a boating management plan to support safe, responsible and enjoyable boating was long overdue for the waterways of Noosa.

“Boating is a way of life for a significant number of people in the Noosa region and we are supportive of MSQ, as the state’s navigation authority and regulator, to lead on a well-considered boating plan,” he said.

“We are supportive of ensuring responsible boating and safe speeds near structures, shorelines, non-powered craft and people in the water.

“We are supportive of a plan that deals with abandoned boats and wrecks, a plan for improved infrastructure for safe and convenient access to this waterway that includes appropriate ramps with adequate parking and supporting pontoons to assist people of all ages and abilities to enjoy boating in this area.”

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name and suburb.

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