One of Waikato Regional Council’s most important but least known functions is its summer maritime safety operation on the Coromandel.
“This summer during the holiday season the council’s maritime safety team conducted its biggest and most challenging operation to date, and most of that activity was in Coromandel waters”, said Thames-Coromandel representative on the Council, Denis Tegg.
“The council’s team interacted with just over 1000 vessels on the water, carrying about 2700 people”
The council’s Maritime Safety team, Operation Neptune which has been running for five years, focuses on on-water education and a compliance programme to reduce the risk of harm on the water.
“Thames-Coromandel has about 400 km of coastline including several busy harbours. You just have to drive past local boat ramps crammed with boat trailers to see that the number of people taking part in recreational boating has been growing year on year.
We now have some of the most congested waterways in New Zealand,” said Cr Tegg.
“Covid 19 restrictions over the past two years have led to more Kiwis holidaying at home and purchasing various new watercraft with many new skippers being inexperienced on the water”
The team also responds to serious incidents with other agencies such as Coastguard and the Police including a number of bar crossing incidents at Tairua Whangamatā and Matarangi.
Challenges include a lack of consistency of rules nationally, such as the wearing of lifejackets, and no national requirements for skipper licensing and training or vessel registration.
“The council also manage hazards on the water. A good example of this was removing a huge log floating in the Whitianga harbour channel. That could have done some real damage to a vessel if struck at speed.”
Thames-Coromandel elected representative on the Waikato Regional Council