IN an unexpected irony, the notorious Mooloolaba Harbour entrance has claimed another victim – the dredge which was supposed to remove a problem sand shoal.
Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson said she had been informed that the Port Frederick, a heavier duty dredge with a previous history of helping clear the Mooloolah River entrance as well as other ports on the Gold Coast, had also run aground on the shoal allegedly due to a freak wave after 5am this morning.
Ms Simpson, who has been fighting for a heavier dredge to be put in place to help address the build-up, said it was a blow which would delay dredging operations. The new dredge, which only arrived Saturday and began work on the sand bar, was originally supposed to take about two weeks to finish the work, subject to weather.
“I’m told the dredge has a damaged propeller and will be out of action for about a week but that damage still needs to be assessed to confirm how long repairs will take. The owners are taking the dredge to dry dock in Brisbane for that purpose,” she said.
“We knew the weather conditions were rough and could hamper the speed of operations but this is more than just ironic that the rescuer has also become a victim.”
Up until this weekend, another dredge had been in place to undertake work to clear the sand shoal and pump sand on to Mooloolaba Beach but had been out of action due to the severe weather conditions, operating as little as two hours per week. This original dredge will remain on standby to continue dredging as possible, but it has been widely acknowledged it has not been able to handle the rough conditions which have occurred at this time of the year.
The Port Frederick, a more robust dredge, had been contracted by Maritime Safety Queensland, a division of the Department of Transport, at a cost of $400,000 to take on the task ahead of a new trial of a sandshifter and ongoing maintenance dredging.
Mariners are urged to be aware of formal weather and condition reports surrounding the harbour entrance.
Ms Simpson said she was asking MSQ to do all it could to ensure dredging proceeded as soon as possible and the public were kept informed.