Maritime Safety Queensland moves to resolve boating issues on Noosa River

Following extensive stakeholder and community consultation since 2021, Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) is continuing to implement a suite of marine safety and pollution reforms for the Noosa River that commenced in September 2023.

The first stage saw a series of speed limitations introduced in the river. These were very successful, with good feedback from the community over the summer months.

MSQ will now move to the next stage of the reform process by issuing ‘notices to comply’ to owners of vessels that were identified as non-compliant in audits MSQ completed in the leadup to implementing the reforms.

In Stage 3, vessels that do not comply, or that are unseaworthy and abandoned, will be required to be removed from the river between May and August 2024.

Stage 4 of the program, commencing in July 2024, will see a ‘no anchoring’ area established for all vessels and applied to:

  • 60m from the busy southern shore of Noosa River from Noosa Sound to the entrance to Lake Doonella
  • across Noosa Sound and up to Woods Bay
  • 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 for this area, and do not anchor or cause obstructions or navigation hazards to other waterway users.

Stage 5, starting in October 2024, will see MSQ create a “no anchoring” area for unoccupied vessels over five metres in length, for a host of safety reasons.

The final Stage 6 will see a 28-day anchoring restriction introduced for Noosa waterways, commencing in March 2025, with a designated implementation period for vessel owners to comply by June 2025.

Education and communication with the public is a priority for MSQ as the process of implementing the reforms is progressed.

The changes are being introduced after MSQ undertook a consultative approach to address community concerns regarding safety, amenity and pollution of Noosa River. This included the formation of a stakeholder advisory group known as the Noosa River Stakeholder Advisory Committee (NRSAC).

The NRSAC was co-chaired by MSQ and Noosa Shire Council and involved a broad range of community and business stakeholders who worked to provide recommendations for proposed reforms to improve management of the river.

MSQ took an agreed program of initiatives to formal public consultation during December 2022 to February 2023 and specifically sought feedback on the proposed anchoring and speed limit changes for the river.

A 6 knots speed limit was introduced for the most heavily-used southern shores of the river in September 2023, and MSQ received positive community feedback on the first stage of the Noosa River safety initiatives.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish said, “Maritime Safety Queensland is working hard to tackle the safety and pollution problems associated with the Noosa River.

“It is never acceptable for vessels to pose safety or pollution risks in our pristine waterways, so MSQ is commencing its suite of actions to responsibly manage those that do.

“Following that, the heavy usage and broad mix of users on the southern shore of the river makes managing this area a high safety priority.

“The ‘no anchoring’ zone being introduced in July should reduce community concerns and further improve safety for this area, building on the speed limits introduced in September 2023.

“MSQ will then move on to implement further reforms in a staged approach to manage the problems on the river.

“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.

Sandy Bolton, Member for Noosa said, “Our Noosa River is the ‘beating heart’ of our community, bringing great joy to so many. 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.

“This has been a long journey for our community, and I thank all who have contributed including residents who gave feedback, members of the Noosa River Stakeholder Advisory Committee, and to the teams from MSQ.

“In addition, to DTMR and DES for understanding the importance of providing supports for our residents experiencing hardship that may be impacted by this transition, and their assurances regarding.  

“Education and communication are vitally important over the coming months, and I ask our community to assist MSQ in these endeavours. The changes outlined may not be exactly what was sought by some, however sharing space requires some compromise between all who love our river!”

Further information on the management of vessels on the Noosa River management plans can be found on MSQ’s website.

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