Feedback sought on marine pest rules

Marine pests are a growing concern in Northland, and the NRC is looking at new measures to prevent their spread, and to decide who pays for that. Photo/NRC
Marine pests are a growing concern in Northland, and the NRC is looking at new measures to prevent their spread, and to decide who pays for that. Photo/NRC

Northland Regional Council is calling for feedback on possible new rules aimed at preventing the spread of marine pests, the question of who foots the bill for marine biosecurity and updates to Northland's harbour safety rules.

Those issues are central to three important regional council documents, all of which will potentially affect boaties and the marine industry.

Council chairman Bill Shepherd said the council wanted to hear from people about its annual activities and budgets (via its annual plan and charging policy), how pests are managed (through its Northland regional pest and marine pathway management plan), and rules for keeping people safe on the water (via its navigation safety bylaw).

"We've rolled all three into a single feedback process, which starts on Saturday and will through to April 21, to make it easier for submitters to have their say, and strongly urge as many people as possible to take the opportunity to familiarise themselves with, and provide feedback on, these and other issues that may affect them," he said.

Cr Shepherd said the biggest suggested change to the council's existing pest plan was the addition of a marine pathway plan with rules limiting hull fouling when vessels move to a new harbour or offshore island.

"Rules targeting the way marine pests are spread give us a much more proactive and cost-effective approach. It'll mean that instead of simply responding to arrivals we can actively prevent them," he said.

The pathways plan would largely be implemented via the council's existing marine biosecurity hull checks programme, but the council's wider programme to stop the spread of marine pests had expanded rapidly over the last five years, and the council was now weighing up the fairest way to pay for that.

"The reality is that movement of hull-fouled boats is the main way marine pests are spread, so boats are the core focus of our marine biosecurity work. While nothing is set in stone at this stage, and I really can't stress that point hard enough, we're also seriously considering whether a boat-focused user pays type charge might be a fairer option to pay for it."

The council's navigation safety bylaw also needed updating, partially to ensure better alignment with Auckland rules, but those were just some of the issues being consulted on.

The council is producing an eight-page edition of its Regional Report newsletter,to be delivered to more than 60,000 properties region-wide.

'Drop-in' sessions were also planned for Mangonui, Waitangi and Whangarei.

All the relevant documents, and a comprehensive range of supporting information, is available here.

- Northland Age

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