New Ports dredge under construction
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New Ports dredge under construction

Safe and reliable ocean access at Lakes Entrance is secured, with work starting on Gippsland Ports’ new dredge.

State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the new trailing suction hopper dredge would be a win for commercial fishermen, tourism operators and recreational boaters and fishers.

“The new dredge will be a great asset to the region and provide a greater level of certainty around consistent ocean access,” he said.

“The port is critically important to the region’s economy with an increasing number of recreational craft utilising the entrance for off-shore access and of course the Lakes Entrance fishing fleet being so dependent on navigable access.”

The dredge, to replace the Pelican, a 35-year-old dredge contracted from New Zealand for the past eight years, is being built in Dutch company Damen’s Yichang Shipyard in China.

“While it would have been preferable to have the construction undertaken by an Australian company, I would expect an exhaustive process was followed in what is a specialised area.”

Mr Bull said the 60-metre dredge, expected to be operating by late 2017, would service the port and support Victoria’s biggest commercial fishing fleet.

He said Gippsland Ports would operate the new dredge as it did with the April Hamer side-casting dredge for 34 years before its retirement in 2009.

“It is pleasing to see the current government continuing on the process commenced under the Coalition when Ports was given the go-ahead to take the construction of a new dredge to the market place.”