Cash splash for St Helens wharf

THE bustling wharf at St Helens on the state's East Coast will receive a multimillion-dollar upgrade this year.

The decision comes after engineering reports conducted by Marine and Safety Tasmania identified the well-trafficked structure had reached the end of its useful life.

Works are expected to start as early as May, and last between six and eight months.

Upgrades will be completed in two stages to limit the inconvenience for those who use the wharf.

About 20 commercial fishery vessels operate out of the site.

It is the only place in Georges Bay where fish can be offloaded.

State government ministers David O'Byrne and Rebecca White announced a $2.5 million funding package for the replacement yesterday.

Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association chief executive Rodney Treloggen said the group had spoken to both major parties to ensure the works would go ahead as planned.

``The amount of money coming through this port makes this replacement a non-partisan decision to make,'' Mr Treloggen said.

``David O'Byrne assured us money had been allocated for the project in the current budget, and I don't envisage any problems from Rene Hidding and the opposition if it falls to them to get the works under way.'' 

Mr Treloggen said replacing the wharf was absolutely crucial.

``Wharves have a finite lifespan,'' he said.

``Within two years the outer section of the St Helens wharf would have been unsafe and unsuitable for use. It would have been closed.''

Mr Treloggen said the upgrade would have a significant impact on the seafood industry.

``St Helens is the key facility for the seafood industry on the East Coast, and one of the most important facilities in the state,'' he said.

``This development will allow scallop boats to access the wharf. It might also be an incentive for big investors that have been avoiding St Helens to come back.''

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