ICONIC: The Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club has played a central role in the city’s social fabric for decades.
ICONIC: The Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club has played a central role in the city’s social fabric for decades.

Calls to save historic Fishos

A COMMUNITY rally this morning marked the Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club's final bid to garner support for its future.

The fate of the Fishos, as it is affectionately known, is in the hands of Coffs Harbour City councillors, who will vote on a recommendation for the club's future at the council meeting tomorrow night.

In a staff recommendation to the councillors, the club said the council would deny its request for direct negotiation, and would result in the council going to a commercial expression of interest process and force the club to close.

The recommendation also maintains the council's stance not to extend the lease by a further 10 years beyond 2021.

It's history repeating itself according to Mark Collins, whose family has been affiliated with the Fishos since its inception in the 1960s.

He said the club's lease woes were similar to those faced nearly five decades ago when his father, John Collins, was president of the club.

"I remember him (Mark's father) going through this in the early stages not long after they got the club up and running with a full bar licence and everything, they wanted to take the site off us," Mr Collins said.

"The best option is to fight hard to the minister and say 'this is Coffs Harbour's history here that you're going to shut down, grant us a 25 year odd lease'.

"If the club closes its going to be devastating for not just for me but everyone in the community, people's jobs and lives are at risk as well."

Coffs Harbour City Council's director of business services, Andrew Beswick, cited the club's recent administration among other factors factors meant it did not meet State Government criteria to extend the lease without allowing the club to go through the usual open market process.

Fishos president Bill Mabey said the proposal tabled to council staff last week was a comprehensive business plan which would benefit the jetty foreshore area.

Ben Jackson, co-founder of Immerse, a social event hosted at the club, compared the venue's strong potential to Byron Bay's famous Beach Hotel.

"It'd be a real shame to see it close because we could run bigger events that could put Coffs on the map."



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