Emergency workers spray water on a chemical spill at Portland. PORTLAND recreational anglers have been grounded for the start of the tuna season while a chemical leak is handled at the town’s port area.
Nanjing Night Net

The Country Fire Authority today said it was still not 100 per cent safe for boats to launch at the Port of Portland, due to the ongoing hazardous materials incident at the Koppers facility.

With no access for recreational aquatic activities or vessels in the port area, a CFA spokesman said it was hoped normal activities would resume on Saturday at the latest, relient on the successful transfer of the leaking liquid pitch from tanks to a ship.

Portland angler Bob McPherson, who runs marine tourism website Wild Blue, said closing the port area to recreational fishers was already impacting on the local fishing economy as the tuna season started to attract visitors.

“There’s tuna everywhere, acres of them, but the ramp is closed off,” Mr McPherson said.

“There are some some massive tuna moving this way from South Australia.

“People in Melbourne spend a lot of money towing their boat for four and a half hours to come and go tuna fishing here, but we don’t even know if the ramp will be open on the weekend.”

He said charters were cancelled last Sunday and bookings for this weekend had taken a hit while it was unclear whether the port would be reopened in time.

“Portland Bait and Tackle shop had 50 phone calls this morning from people in Melbourne and Geelong prepared to spend hard-earned money fishing for tuna on the weekend.

“The bigger tuna would nearly be in our zone now and they’re moving in a water depth of 140 metres.

“I can’t find out why the rest of the harbour is still operating and the woodchips are going in, they’re moving windmills, but we can’t launch a boat from the ramp.

“Everything else seems to be operating all right.

“If they closed down the Docklands at Melbourne I’m sure you’d get five million people ringing up.”

Mick Rantall, owner of Warrnambool’s Hooked On Rods ‘N’ Reels, said the tuna season in Warrnambool would begin in the coming weeks with large hauls at Port McDonnell, near the Victoria/South Australia border.

“Most blue fin tuna caught so far are ranging from 15 to 30 kilograms,” he said.

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