Fishing proposal seeks to use public land, launch boats near scientific reserve
A commercial fishing operator hampered by uplifted seabeds is lobbying to launch their boats further down the beach, next to a scientific reserve and seal colony.
A resource consent application by Burkhart Fisheries Limited, in Marlborough, seeks to build a road on public land, construct a parking area and move boat launching operations to a new section of Ward Beach.
The proposal would launch the company's boats and house its bulldozers next to the Chancet Rocks scientific reserve and its seal colony. Submissions on the proposal close on Monday.
Burkhart Fisheries Limited founders Trevor and Dennis Burkhart have been fishing for crayfish in waters off Ward for more than 40 years, but the November earthquake and subsequent seabed uplift has complicated their launch site.
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It was no longer safe for the company to launch its boats, the application said, requesting to build on an existing paper road 1.5 kilometres north to the new site.
The road, flanked by farmland and foreshore, would be on public land and run through coastal dunes. This road would lead to a 2100 square metre area for bulldozers to park and take boats into the water.
Burkhart Fisheries advisor Larnce Wichman said the beach had become too shallow and it was hazardous for fishermen to launch.
Locations south of Ward Beach at the Needles, and other launch sites such as Wairau Bar and Marfells Beach, had been considered, Wichman said.
"The Chancet is the safest location of all ... It is a natural harbour the way the reef system is structured," he said.
Wichman would not comment specifically on the environmental impact of the site, other than all efforts had been made to be environmentally responsible.
Mark Wills, of Blenheim, was the head of a group lobbying for the protection of the quake-hit coastline at Cape Campbell.
The fishing industry was integral to the Ward community but it was also important to protect public land, he said.
"If it's a public area [the road] should be for public use, and not just for one or two people," he said.
"It's a tough one, there are a lot of groups to consider."
Burkhart Fisheries Limited employed more than 30 employees in Ward and across wider Marlborough.
Flaxbourne Settlers Association chairman Stuart Oulton would not comment on the proposal directly, but said it was important to remember the opportunities the company offered the town.
"It would be devastating if we were to lose the employment benefits their business brings to Ward," he said.
Dennis Burkhart said the company had no comment on the proposal until the period for public submissions closed.
A Marlborough District Council spokeswoman said council planners would assess all information in the resource consent against its body of information, reports and data.
Outside expertise would be called on if required, she said.
The period of submissions had not yet closed and the council could not disclose how many had been received.
Once public submissions closed on Monday, May 15, they would be available on the council website.
- The Marlborough Express