About Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf and the Bermagui Fishermen’s Cooperative
BERMAGUI FISHERMEN’S CO-OPERATIVE – the beginning.
Bermagui Fishermen’s Cooperative was established in 1946, to process and market fish and seafood caught from the port of Bermagui. Over the years since, it has become one of the major suppliers of the Sydney Fish Market. Melbourne also receives Bermagui seafood, as do many local businesses in the Bermagui area.
Many different types of fish are still caught and sent to market from Bermagui. The most well known being Flathead, Ling, Snapper, Tuna, Swordfish and Shark.
With an annual worth of over $2 billion, fishing and aquaculture is the fifth most valuable Australian rural industry after wool, beef, wheat and dairy. Australia’s fishing zone is the world’s third largest (total of 8,148,250 square kilometres). Australian waters contain some 3,000 known species of fish and at least an equal number of crustaceans and molluscs, but only about 10 per cent are commercially fished.
Famous American author Zane Grey fished from Bermagui in the 1930s. Patron of the Bermagui Sport Fishing Association for 1936 and 1937, Grey set a number of world records, and wrote of his experiences in his book “An American Angler in Australia”. Since that time, Bermagui has been known around the world as a game-fishing mecca for big tuna, marlin and shark.
For those after the less glamorous but delicious table fish, Bermagui has long been known for its variety of available species, whether out to sea or in the quiet waters of the lakes, rivers and creeks nearby. You can can catch anything from Bermagui, depending on the time of year. It has provided safe harbour to countless anglers from all over the world, and is a famous haven for the hundreds of trailerboats that visit this section of the coast each year.
BIG CHANGES IN THE FISHING INDUSTRY
The $220 million ‘Securing our Fishing Future’ package was announced in November 2005 and was designed to deliver profitable and sustainable Commonwealth fisheries for the future. Part of this package involved the buying out of licences and fishing businesses in what was known as Business Exit Assistance.
This meant that Bermagui’s commercial fishing fleet would be reduced by at least 10 businesses, as well as by a reduction in visiting boats. To offset this, the Australian Government provided $20 million in Fishing Community Assistance to help fishing communities manage the impacts of this reduced fishing activity.
This enabled the Co-op to apply to the Federal Government for a Fishing Community Assistance Grant of $1.2million for demolishing the existing Co-op building and replaced with the Fishermen’s Wharf Complex. This was supplemented by local individual Co-op members investing their funds, and a $1.5m loan taken out by the Co-op itself.
BERMAGUI FISHERMEN’S WHARF TAKES SHAPE
Total cost of construction of project is over $5m.
Total employment for building complex was approximately 30 employees.
3 years of planning, 10 months to build.
The official opening was on Friday 11th December 2009 by Tony Kelly, MLC NSW Minister for Lands and Mike Kelly MLA, Federal Member for Eden Monaro.
Top national and international architect Philip Cox, who owns property south of Bermagui, saw this as an opportunity to create a village of uniqueness using local materials, having a flavour of what the forests were, forming a relaxed environment which reflects the view of the fishing fleet and the wharves backed by the ocean and the mountains. He is hoping it will assist in making Bermagui a destination in its own right within the south coast. Philip Cox talks to ABC Radio HERE.
The locally-sourced (“just up the road”) spotted-gum columns which dominate the building are a reflection of the surrounding forests from whence they came. They also remind us of the classic wharf structures found in fishing villages such as Bermagui..
Local South Coast builders – Rankin Builders of Pambula – were engaged in 1998 for the project, and enjoyed working with wood instead of synthetic materialsso much they didn’t want to finish the project. Master Builder Neil Rankin found the project a “pleasure” to work on. Construction was also labour intensive, and provided much-needed employment for the region. Apprentices employed were able to learn some of the more traditional building methods working on this unique
The locally-sourced (“just up the road”) spotted-gum columns which dominate the building are a reflection of the surrounding forests from whence they came. They also remind us of the classic wharf structures found in fishing villages such as Bermagui.