KEPT FROM THE WATER: Dams and waterways across the Southern Downs have been closed to recreational boaters to help with the spread of coronavirus.
KEPT FROM THE WATER: Dams and waterways across the Southern Downs have been closed to recreational boaters to help with the spread of coronavirus.

Boaties kept off water to control virus spread

WARWICK’S recreational boating community has come to a standstill, as confusion looms over what is an essential activity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Minister for Transport Mark Bailey reversed his decision to close state-run boat ramps, clarifying the rules and regulations for boaties looking to take to the water.

In his statement, the Minister confirmed boaters would be able to take to waterways, if they were catching fish for consumption or completing physical activity, such as kayaking or paddle boarding.

However, privately-owned and operated Leslie Dam remains closed for all public activities.

A G Licensing owner Andrew Gale said the conflicting positions from the Minister for Transport and Sunwater was causing confusion for a number of people.

“People should be able to go out and catch themselves some fish because that’s part of their normal diet,” Mr Gale said.

“There are a lot of people who go fishing on Leslie Dam nearly every day of the week to catch fish for consumption.

“As long as people comply with social distancing laws and no more than two people are on the boat, there shouldn’t be an issue.”

Leslie Dam, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, was closed to the public on March 31.

A Sunwater spokesperson confirmed all “recreations areas, lakes and weirs” would be closed until further notice due to the public health crisis.

“Sunwater’s primary concerns is the health and safety of staff and the community and doing all we can to limit the spread of the virus.”

Mr Gale has since sought the assistance of State Member for the Southern Downs James Lister to seek clarification on the matter.

“For the vast majority, the issue was solved when the Minister for Transport agreed to soften the ban,” Mr Lister said.

“We are still seeing hasty and poor decisions that needlessly disadvantage people in our community, like Mr Gale and his family business, and those who want to fish to feed their families.

“I’ve asked the Natural Resources Minister Dr Lynham to follow suit with his dams so that Mr Gale and the many other users of our inland lakes can have a fair go too, as long as they abide by proper social distancing measures.”

Mr Gale has had to cease operations of his boat licensing business, despite making adjustments to ensure he complied with social distancing measures.

“It is effecting my business as well – I’m able to conduct my boat licensing business if I am able to show that I am complying with the social distancing laws,” he said.

“But I haven’t got the facilities up here anymore.”

The Southern Downs Regional Council have announced the closure of Connolly and Storm King Dam to all water and land-based recreational activities.