Regional council says Fiordland moorings not permitted

Environment Southland has opened an investigation after complaints were received about RealNZ's moorings in Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound.

John Hawkins / Stuff

Environment Southland has opened an investigation after complaints were received about RealNZ’s moorings in Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound.

  • The regional council has filed a complaint against the tourism company RealNZ
  • Council inquiry finds Fiordland moorings not consented
  • Charges related to the Resource Management Act will be heard in Queenstown District Court

Environment Southland has brought two charges against tourism company RealNZ over two of its moorings in Fiordland.

The regional council has completed its investigation into complaints about two company-owned anchorages in Harrison Cove, Fiordland.

A council spokesman said their investigation revealed that the mooring lines currently in place were unauthorized.

“Due to the sensitive nature of Fiordland’s environment and the importance of ensuring compliance with the Regional Coastal Plan, we have taken this breach of the Resource Management Act very seriously.”

In this case, two Resource Management Act charges were brought in Queenstown District Court against RealNZ. »

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Any requirement to remove the mooring lines would be determined by the court, the spokesperson said.

The regional council declined to comment further now that the case is before the courts.

RealNZ chief executive Stephen England-Hall said the new moorings at Harrisons Cove had a lower environmental impact and higher safety rating than previous ones and no curtailment notices had been issued.

Moorings are always available to be used if needed

In an April interview, England-Hall said the company had upgraded its existing mooring lines at Harrison Cove in Milford Sound to multi-anchor mooring systems.

He said the anchors used for the new mooring lines were screwed into the seabed using a helical screw pile, he said.

When asked if upgrading the moorings at Harrison Cove required new consent, he replied: ”We have existing consents for our moorings at Harrison Cove, and consents for our new moorings at Cascade Cove and First Arm were granted in February 2022.”

The company had chosen to install multi-anchor mooring systems because they were superior, offering significant environmental and safety benefits over swivel moorings, including no disturbance to the seabed, a rotation zone reduced and greater holding power, he said.

Fiordland Marine Guardians chair Rebecca McLeod said the group was confident Environment Southland had taken their concerns seriously and was taking legal action.

Elna M. Lemons