Dumping moves offshore
Sediment dredged by Pine Harbour Marina will no longer be dispersed locally now the company has dropped its appeal to the Environment Court.
The ecosystem is already healing with increasing amount of cockles, pipis and sea grass, Pohutukawa Coast Community Association spokesman Donald Willan says.
"We hope to do another detailed survey this summer but anecdotal evidence is that the sea grass, which is the effective spawning ground for the snapper, is starting to come back in Green Bay."
In 2009 the marina applied for consent to dredge its approach channel and annually dispose of 3000 cubic metres of silt nearby off Motukaraka Island via thin layer disposal for 20 years.
The application was declined after it was opposed by the Auckland Regional Council and others, including the community association.
The marina appealed the court's decision but has now officially withdrawn the appeal.
Pine Harbour Marina did not respond to requests for comment.
Howick historian Alan La Roche was one of those originally against the consent application and says dispersed sediment has decimated shellfish numbers at Cockle Bay beach over the years.
"This gives them the opportunity now to, we hope, recover - but it will take many years."
The marina has now built a large barge to transport the dredged material further away.
"Maritime New Zealand has given them permission to dump it in very deep water off Great Barrier," Mr La Roche says.
"But of course that's close to a proposed marine reserve, and it shifts the problem to Great Barrier people away from here," Mr La Roche says.
Mr Willan says he is "very pleased" the marina has dropped its appeal. "Under the existing legislation they could continue to dredge and dump under the old resource consent they had until the appeal was resolved."
He says the association will not seek costs from Pine Harbour.
"It was always about the environment, not about winning or losing."
Mr La Roche says there is no natural channel entering and exiting Pine Harbour Marina so it has to be regularly dredged to maintain access.
His proposal to use the sediment to help cover trash at the Whitford Landfill was rejected by the marina as it was not willing to cover the cost, he says.
"They have now launched into a bigger operation in cleaning up marinas of the upper North Island."
The former Auckland Regional Council was the main objector to the marina's original application for resource consent in 2009.
Auckland Council has taken over the ARC and did not wish to comment.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you wear a lifejacket when you are on the water - no matter what vessel you are in?