Challenger Beach fishing competition cancelled

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Pierra WillixSound Telegraph
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Challenger Beach.
Camera IconChallenger Beach. Credit: Pierra Willix

A community fishing event scheduled to run at Challenger Beach last weekend was cancelled after the City of Kwinana opposed it on the grounds there would be too many people close to the Kwinana Industrial Area.

Organised by Fish Army and the Naval Base Holiday Association, and supported by the Maritime Union of WA, the Challenger Beach Fishing Challenge was scheduled to run over March 9 and 10, but was cancelled last week after the City expressed their opposition to the event.

A City of Kwinana spokeswoman said organisers were advised the City had a “long-standing” position that large, organised gatherings of people in the heavy industrial area of Kwinana were not generally supported, and that there were “inherent risks” to public safety that needed to be considered when assessing whether to approve an event in a heavy industrial area.

“Using a beach within a heavy industrial area places members of the public at a higher risk than beach users in non-industrial locations,” she said.

She cited the large number of attendees who had indicated they would attend, numbered in the hundreds, as well as the limited space for parking along the beach as reasons the City was opposed to the event.

Although the Naval Base Shacks fall under the City of Cockburn, Challenger Beach and its adjoining carpark are within the jurisdiction of the City of Kwinana.

Fish Army co-founder Mike Pritchard said it was disappointing the event, which had been organised to encourage the community and members of the wider public to use the beach, had to be cancelled.

But Kwinana Industries Council director Chris Oughton said the industrial area was an “inherently risky” place, which was why buffer zones were in place to keep the residential population a safe distance away. “Those men and women working in the industrial area know about industrial risks and are trained to make sure they are safe were an incident to occur,” he said.

“Members of the recreating community using one of the two public beaches in the industrial area are generally not aware what the personal risks to them are if in the unlikely event that an industrial incident were to occur, and nor are they trained in how to respond to one if it occurred.”

Despite still being in the planning stages, controversy has surrounded the possibility of an Outer Harbour at Kwinana which, if it went ahead, would be built along Challenger Beach.

The Kwinana Industries Council and Fish Army have been at loggerheads over the need for the development, but Mr Oughton said that although the KIC had not been aware of the fishing challenge organised by the Fish Army, they would not have opposed it.

A City of Cockburn spokeswoman said Mayor Logan K Howlett had accepted an invitation from the Fish Army to open and close the event.

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