Auckland Council Harbourmaster Fee Increases Are Penalising Responsible Boat Owners
Updated: Mar 23, 2019
Proposed Harbourmaster fee increases by Auckland Council are being placed on responsible boat owners to recover the cost of responding to and recovering boats of delinquent owners that have abandoned or poorly maintained their boats. Local Auckland business BoatSecure says it is able to address the issues that the Harbourmaster complains are the problem.
John McDermott, CEO of BoatSecure states “It is plainly unfair that responsible boat owners that look after their boats are being asked to bear the cost of abandoned and poorly maintained boats. Rather than slugging these boat owners with higher fees, the Harbourmaster should be encouraging better industry practise and supporting marine organisations that prevent and mitigate these issues from occurring in the first place”.
The Auckland Harbourmaster states they are bearing the cost of recovering and disposing of boats that sink because they don’t know who the owner is. They also claim that the boat fleet is increasing in age and that boat owners are not maintaining their boats. For these reasons the Harbourmaster is proposing an additional annual mooring fee increase of $57.50 per year, which would recover $200,000 from the 4,500 boats kept at swing and pile moorings.
McDermott adds “The Harbourmaster is already taking as much as $4 million in fees from boat owners leasing moorings. They now want to increase this by unfairly blaming the majority of boat owners, when the problem lies a small minority of boat owners and the the record keeping of the Harbourmaster”.
McDermott explains “Our BoatSecure service continuously monitors vital signals from boats on moorings, including GPS location, bilge water levels and on-board electrical systems. Any problems are reported immediately to the boat owner so that problems can be addressed before a catastrophe occurs. Our service requires collecting from the owner information about their boat as well as contact details and billing information. It is clear that services like ours can fix the problems the Harbourmaster has”.
McDermott is asking for a more constructive proposal from the Harbourmaster, “We encourage the Harbourmaster to partner with organisations like ours, and also yacht clubs and boat managers. Responsible boat owners should be encouraged and supported, not penalised with higher fees that are of no benefit to them. This is a classic situation that the Harbourmaster is allowing the problems to continue so that they get worse over time and is not addressing the underlying issues. The modern technology that BoatSecure has developed is a low cost service that directly addresses all of the problem causes that the Harbourmaster states.
BoatSecure is a marine business located in Auckland where we undertake technology development, business operations and management.
BoatSecure is founded, owned and managed by Auckland resident entrepreneurs. We are developing technology that is world leading for boat owners who want to ensure their boat is safeguarded at mooring.
Our business provides a service to boat owners for remote monitoring their boats in marinas and on moorings. We ensure their boat is ready for sailing by monitoring key signals. Of particular note is that we monitor:
Bilge pumps and bilge water levels
GPS location/anchor drift
Shore power provision
Intruders on boats
The installation of a small monitoring device and our ongoing service provides boat owners a smart phone app that displays data of the boat status and alerts to any issues that may need action.
John McDermott, CEO
Statement by Auckland Council Harbourmaster regarding fee increases.
Extracted from: https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/have-your-say/topics-you-can-have-your-say-on/annual-budget-2019-2020/docssupportinginformation2/annual-budget-2019-2020-supporting-information-full.pdf#page=17
Proposed changes to Harbourmaster fees
We are proposing changes to some Harbourmaster fees to reduce ratepayer subsidy for services that benefit vessel owners.
The proposal includes increasing mooring permit fees by $57.50 per annum (including GST) on top of the annual inflationary adjustment to help fund the salvage and disposal of abandoned and wrecked boats from moorings. The Harbourmaster currently has to dispose of about 20 moored vessels per annum and the cost can be as much as $25,000 each if they sink. The moored fleet is increasing in age and the number of boats falling into disrepair is increasing every year. As there is no vessel registration system in New Zealand, it is often difficult to identify owners of the abandoned or wrecked boats and impose the costs. The costs are therefore currently borne by the general ratepayers. The proposed fee increase would shift the burden to vessel owners and greatly reduce ratepayer subsidy. Up to the first $3,000 of the Harbourmaster’s costs relating to salvage or disposal of legally moored vessels will be covered by the increase in fees and the remaining amount will continue to be invoiced to the owner (if they can be identified).
The proposed changes to Harbourmaster charges are expected to recover an additional $210,000 per annum in revenue (excluding GST).