Yachting New Zealand is calling on Auckland Council to take immediate action to help prevent a biodiversity disaster in our backyard.
YNZ chief executive David Abercrombie is also urging Kiwis to support legal efforts against what he called “significant restraints” on antifouling capacity in the Auckland region further threatening our marine environment.
It follows the closure of the hardstand at The Landing at Ōrākei's Ōkahu Bay in February – the last such council-run facility in the Auckland region - and the loss of a planned hardstand as part of the development of a $300 million-plus apartment precinct on the North Shore’s Bayswater Marina.
“The closing of affordable and fit-for-purpose haul-out areas around Auckland is a contentious issue and potentially a contributing factor to the negative consequences of invasive species and the demise of the Hauraki Gulf,” Abercrombie said.
“There is no doubt that fewer haul-out areas in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland or any region for that matter, for hull cleaning and antifouling, increases the risk of marine pests being spread.
“Cleaning and antifouling boats on beaches and piles between tides used to be the norm but is no longer an acceptable solution to managing our biodiversity risk and is not to be encouraged. We must do all we can to reduce the spread of invasive species and restore our fragile marine environment.”
The Landing historically catered for up to 20 per cent of boat cleanings and was until recently the only yard that could be easily accessed by larger multihulls. Its strategic central position along with its "Blue Flag" accreditation made it a unique and highly valued site, Abercrombie said.
He questioned whether Auckland Council and the Ōrākei local board had given due consideration to the importance of the site to the marine industry during the consultation period.
“The population of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is growing, as is the number of boats in the region, yet hardstand and haul-out areas are coming under increasing pressure due to recent closures - a further risk to our environment," Abercrombie said.
“If Auckland Council feel there is already adequate or ‘spare capacity’ hardstand in Auckland to cater for the vast array of boats requiring cleaning, then this should be clearly articulated.
“Council should be required to urgently address where this additional capacity can be provided, whilst considering suitable locations and planning provisions as even if The Landing remains open it will not solve the underlying problem.”
Abercrombie said there is an economic and biodiversity argument to maintain the operation of The Landing until a thorough and detailed review of capacity and need can be carried out: “It is going to require a coordinated approach between Council, boating clubs, iwi and hapū to avoid a biodiversity disaster in our backyard.”
Speaking on behalf of the Auckland Yachting and Boating Association, a not-for-profit association representing approximately 7000 boat owners across the region, Andrew Barney said boat owners are facing steep penalties should they not comply with the Government’s recently introduced national clean hull policies.
Barney cited a 2022 report issued by the Top of the North Marine Biosecurity Partnership estimating that Auckland has sufficient hardstand capacity to haul only 33 per cent of the region’s marina-berthed and moored boats annually.
“This lack of cleaning capacity was estimated before council decided to shut the hardstand at The Landing, yet Auckland Council’s biosecurity team estimated that most of Auckland’s boats need an annual clean and anti-foul to meet the requirements of the clean hull policies,” Barney said.
“Most owners understand that marine invasive species hitch-hike on the hulls of boats and that keeping it clean is environmentally sensible.”
The closure of The Landing is the latest in a string of hardstand losses in the region since 2015, while haul-out and hardstand sites in private and club control are increasingly under threat from commercial and residential development, Barney said.
He confirmed the Auckland Yachting and Boating Association is taking legal action against Auckland Council.
“AYBA is taking Auckland Council to the Environment Court over the Bayswater sale, and to the High Court over the closure of The Landing," Barney said.
“We must stop Auckland Council from selling off and closing our hardstands but legal action is expensive and we can’t do it alone. We need the help of our boating communities.”
- Following the start of judicial proceedings earlier this week, Abercrombie said Yachting New Zealand would not be commenting any further "as this matter is now before the courts".