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Bylaw changes designed to make Northland’s harbours and estuaries safer – and which reflect changes in recreational use – will take effect from 01 July, 2012.
The Northland Regional Council received more than 500 public submissions on proposed changes to its Navigation Safety Bylaw, with possible restrictions on transferring mooring licences and changes to the speed exemptions for board sports attracting the most comment.
In February, the council established a committee chaired by Craig Brown – and including his fellow councillors John Bain, Joe Carr and Bronwyn Hunt – to hear those submissions and make recommendations to the full council.
After considering those submissions and a series of recommendations put forward by that committee, the full regional council voted on Tuesday 19 June to drop the mooring transfer proposal and retain the status quo on the ability of mooring owners to transfer their licences.
Councillors also agreed with the committee that a strategy be developed - and the community consulted on it - to address the broader mooring management issues in the region. The committee also recommended the setting up of a web-based system to help with the sale and rental of moorings.
Chidambaram Surendran, the regional council’s Deputy Harbourmaster, says mooring owners are being advised of these developments in a mooring newsletter to be sent out in early July.
Meanwhile, Mr Surendran says the council had received submissions both for and against a proposal to remove/amend speed exemptions for board sports, which would have mainly affected kiteboarders within estuaries.
“Kiteboarders submitted that their sport would be adversely affected in the region, the move could increase dangers to the sport’s beginners if they had to learn in unsheltered waters and could have economic consequences in the region.”
Mr Surendran says those supporting the proposal suggested the safety of swimmers and other water users was at risk due to the high speed board sport activity – to which kiteboarders countered they were only able to practice their sport when the winds are strong and other water users tended to stay away.
“The committee chaired by Cr Brown considered all submissions, carefully took note of the arguments for/against and eventually made the decision to retain the existing speed exemptions for board sports without change.”
Mr Surendran says the committee agreed with submitters’ suggestions that the council develop and publish a code of conduct for kiteboarders.
“With reference to concerns raised by some submitters about the disturbance of wildlife by board sport activity, the committee made note that other instruments such as the Wildlife Act 1953 exist.”
Mr Surendran says another change passed by the council will see the removal of the ski lane at Kowharewa Bay in the Tutukaka Harbour.
“After careful consideration, the committee decided that the staff proposal was based on sound safety considerations and that all other options had been investigated and ruled out.”
He says other changes recommended to the Navigation Safety Bylaw and passed by the full council included:
Mr Surendran says council staff had also proposed modifying the two ski lanes at Pataua into one defined area, which had attracted opposition from some submitters.
“The committee has recommended that further consultation be carried out with the Pataua community to determine the safest option.”
He says a number of other minor updates and amendments to the bylaw were also approved by the council, with some changes.
The updated Navigation Safety Bylaw 2012 will take effect on Sunday 01 July and will be available shortly on the council’s website at: www.nrc.govt.nz/navigationbylaw