Dive boat operator Mike Davey says the beauty of the Solitary Islands could be added to a redesigned harbour.
Dive boat operator Mike Davey says the beauty of the Solitary Islands could be added to a redesigned harbour.

Digging deep for harbour plan

A JETTY business owner says he will put his hand in his pocket to help fund an artificial reef in the harbour if the State Government adopts the proposed northern harbour entrance reported in yesterday’s Advocate.

Originally raised by experienced mariner, Captain Jas Cockle in 1923, the harbour re-design would see the existing harbour mouth closed by an extension of the south wall to Mutton Bird Island.

A new harbour entrance could then be channelled behind the island through what is now the northern end of the marina.

Mike Davey, operator of the Jetty Dive Centre, says if the plan was adopted not only would it better protect the harbour from the elements and sand silting, it would create the potential for an underwater wonderland.

“From a divers perspective, the eastern end of the harbour if it was closed, would be ideal for an artificial reef; a diving paradise,” Mr Davey said.

“The unique deep sea reefs of the Solitary Islands could be recreated right here in the harbour as an all-weather dive site, it would put Coffs Harbour on the map.”

A long-time supporter of the 87-year-old design concept, Mr Davey agrees the northern entrance would safeguard the harbour from heavy swell surges that pump 50,000 tonnes of sand through the harbour mouth each year.

Over 14 years, Mr Davey says he’s watched the harbour depth, measured on his dive boat sounder, fall from eight metres to five metres.

“When I first came here we would go to sea diving in two to three metre seas, nowadays it’s just diabolic to try and do that,” he said.

“I bet if someone did the sums, the cost to continually dredge the harbour would soon outweigh the initial costs of wall development and a northern entrance concept.”

To voice your opinion on Captain Cockle’s design, or the future of the harbour and Jetty foreshores, go online and comment at www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au.



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