Marine Rescue volunteers plead with Council to dredge parts of the Nambucca River

Marine Rescue Nambucca spokespeople addressed Council requesting help with dredging parts of the Nambucca River.

GARY Nichols and Grant Nicholas of Nambucca Marine Rescue addressed Nambucca Valley Council at last Thursday’s council meeting regarding the need for dredging in the Nambucca River.

“We can’t launch our boat 80 percent of the time.

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“This is why we are asking Council to help with dredging around our base and around the boat ramps,” a frustrated Mr Nicholas explained.

According to the pair, the Nambucca’s Marine Rescue unit has been active in one form or another saving lives and rescuing people since 1999.

Marine Rescue patrols the entire NSW coast, the Murray River and other large lakes and rivers, working closely with Surf Lifesaving and the State Emergency Service.

The Nambucca unit boasts 22 volunteers and covers the area from Grassy Head to Urunga, for seven nautical miles out to sea and as well as the region’s five rivers including the Nambucca River.

“A lot of people seem to think that we save marine life – dolphins and that kind of thing – but that is not the case,” Mr Nicholas said.

“We’re out to save (human) lives; that’s our main job.

“During the Christmas period we average one to two rescues a day,” Mr Nicholas explained of the organisation’s importance to the community.

However, due to long term changes in the Nambucca River, some of them man-made such as the introduction of sand islands, the river around the Nambucca Marine Rescue unit’s base has become increasingly shallow and the rescue boat is often unable to be launched.

Furthermore, other parts of the river have also become shallow and at low tide it is often impossible to reach those in trouble by boat.

Mr Nicholas said that recently a boat carrying eleven passengers, some of them children, had needed rescuing, but since the Marine Rescue group’s boat could not be launched, two jet skis had had to make multiple trips, some at night aided only by torchlight, to rescue all persons aboard the vessel.

“We are working around this situation (shallow water), like launching the boat from other locations, but we are coming up with really inefficient solutions, just to save lives,” he said.

According to Gary Nichols, the Nambucca rescue group’s Unit Commander, dredging the river would be very expensive.

“It would cost around $5 million every seven years which is ridiculous and can’t be done,” Mr Nichols said.

He urged Council to clear at least the channels and around the Marine Rescue base so that the organisation can continue to preserve lives.

Mr Nichols also explained that Nambucca Marine Rescue was looking into other options, such as purchasing a new boat, launching from other boat ramps and moving their base of operations but all possible solutions would cost a great deal of money.


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