Gippsland’s new purpose-built dredge has started work to deliver safe and reliable ocean access for the thousands of recreational and commercial vessels that cross the Lakes Entrance bar every year.
Minister for Ports Luke Donnellan launched the new $23m dredge at Lakes Entrance today.
The Tommy Norton will safeguard recreational boating and commercial fishing in, and through the Port of Gippsland Lakes, industries worth an estimated $200 million to the local economy each year.
As well as being home to Victoria’s largest commercial fishing fleet, the Port of Gippsland Lakes services commercial vessels and offshore oil and gas suppliers.
Maintenance dredging at Lakes Entrance has been going on for more than 120 years and is vital to provide a reliable entrance to the Gippsland Lakes.
Maintaining ocean access also reduces the risk and severity of flooding for local communities at Lakes Entrance, Paynesville and Metung and the surrounding agricultural regions.
The new 60-metre Trailing Suction Hopper Dredge was built by Dutch company Damen at its Yichang Shipyard in Hubei province, China.
Gippsland Ports will operate the Tommy Norton from Lakes Entrance with a crew of four people recruited locally and from interstate.
It replaces the retiring Pelican, a 35-year-old dredge contracted from New Zealand.
Having a permanent dredge will reduce Gippsland Ports’ costs and reduce the risk of introducing invasive species from foreign dredges.
Quote attributable to Minister for Ports Luke Donnellan
“We said that we’d get a new, purpose built dredge for the Gippsland Lakes – and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Quote attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing
“The new dredge will support our tourism and fishing industries in and around the Gippsland Lakes, industries that are worth hundreds of millions to our local economy.”
Quote attributable to Gippsland Ports Chair Geoff Hocking
“We have taken delivery of an excellent vessel, purpose built for operation at Lakes Entrance. Gippsland Ports is very appreciative of the support of the Victorian Government in procuring this new dredge.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020