Twelve wrecked vessels have been removed from Waiheke waters since April last year and Auckland Harbourmaster Andrew Hayton says says they are disposing of another three at the moment.
“Unfortunately, as soon as we get rid of vessels, others appear,” he says.
The majority of the wrecks, unseaworthy and abandoned vessels in our sheltered bays appear to be linked to Waiheke residents who seem unwilling to take responsibility for their upkeep and timely removal, says Hayton.
“If we know, or find out, who owns a vessel that we end up disposing of, we will seek to recover all of our costs,” he says.
Responsibility for removing vessels depends on where they are. Below the high tide mark is the harbourmaster’s responsibility (Auckland Transport), but above the high tide mark it falls under Auckland Council.
Near the Waiheke Boating Club, in the tidal area seaward of Causeway Road abandoned boats awaiting removal are moored. Most have been there for months, a few for years.
“We are a small team and have lots of things to deal with. Some vessels will be there for longer than we’d like due to the amount of work we have on. Some jobs come in that jump our list of things to do due to their risk profile,” says Hayton.
Under the Maritime Transport Act, regional councils are allowed to remove, store or sell an abandoned vessel. But they must also place a notice on the vessel for at least a month, notify police and the owner. They must also notify the public in at least two issues of the area’s regional newspaper.
Hayton says this can make it a long process.
Waiheke Boating Club president Grant Crawford says he believes derelict boats are a challenge for communities and agencies both locally and nationally. “In our area, the harbourmaster has been great in checking with the club in case boats causing concern belong to members, and the club has reciprocated with sharing its knowledge of the area.
• Silvia Massa
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