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Maritime responsibilities in the Eastern Bay of Plenty

Monday, 2 September 2013 2:54 p.m.

Recent media coverage of the moorings situation in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has prompted the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Whakatāne District Council to clarify the roles and responsibilities of both organisations and remind mooring-holders of their individual obligations.

The Whakatāne District Council’s Harbour Superintendent is responsible for day-to-day operational maintenance of the Whakatāne District Ports and Harbour facilities, including wharfs, jetties and boat ramps.

The Eastern Bay Harbour Master is employed by the Regional Council and is responsible for navigation safety in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, including removing obstructions to navigation, approving leases and transfers of moorings, and ensuring compliance with the Navigation and Safety Bylaws.

The Harbour Master monitors the bar at the mouth of the Whakatāne River and places restrictions on the use of the bar when conditions cause safety issues. Most locals are familiar with the red ball in the day or a red light at night on the signal mast to let them know that the river entrance is considered ‘unworkable’.

Staff from the two organisations work closely together, including sharing a vessel (Port Whakatāne III), with a recent example of a joint initiative being the work undertaken to clear a large tree stump from the entrance to the Ōpōtiki Harbour.

Eastern Bay of Plenty Harbour Master, Brian Spake, said the Councils work closely together on a wide range of issues. “While we have different roles in the maritime environment, overall we have the same aim for the Eastern Bay – the safe and enjoyable use of our waterways.”

WDC Harbour Superintendent, Peter Cavanagh, agrees. “The maritime roles and responsibilities of our organisations align and we work collaboratively wherever we can. Sharing a boat means reduced costs for ratepayers. Tasks can also be shared to reduce duplication,” Mr Cavanagh said.

If a member of the public notices an issue such as a boat free from its mooring or any other damage, safety hazards or risks, they should report it to the Harbour Master as soon as practicable. The number available 24 hours a day for this purpose is (07) 308 8570.

Under Navigation and Safety Bylaws, the master of any vessel that has a collision, accident, causes an obstruction or causes any damage must report the incident (as required by the Maritime Transport Act 1994) to the Harbour Master within 48 hours.

Reuben Fraser, BOPRC Manager Maritime Operations reminds boaties that responsible use of the Eastern Bay waterways requires cooperation and input from users as well.

“Safety and environmental care underlies all our bylaws and regulations. The Eastern Bay of Plenty has safe and enjoyable waterways with excellent amenities and maintaining that is a big undertaking. Both organisations work together to make it happen. We rely on boaties taking responsibility too – being aware of the rules and keeping us informed of issues such as hazards and safety concerns.

 “The Regional Council advises that boats on swing moorings need to be checked regularly; at least every fortnight is recommended. Check that your headline is not chafing, your mooring buoy has a yellow identification tag, your boat is not taking on water and that all ropes, sails, rudders, booms and so on are secure. Achieving maritime safety rests with all users,” Mr Fraser says.

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Whakatane Harbour lowres