After 25 years in the business, Aaron Laboyrie is shutting up shop on Raglan wharf.
The Megabite Fishing Charters owner is ready for retired life but his departure has raised questions about the wharf's future.
The inclement weather in the past couple of seasons, increasing maintenance costs and the price of wharf storage space meant all boaties were feeling the pinch, Mr Laboyrie said.
Mark Mathers, who has struggled with similar issues with his fish and chip shop, said there was no support for the fishing industry.
"It's still a working port but they see it as more for retail than industry now. They've chosen that over the community," he said.
Raglan Community Board chairman Rodger Gallagher agreed.
Their top priority was to "get the wharf working again", he said.
"Waikato District Council has never understood this and instead has been slowly getting a replacement building up on the wharf aimed at retail."
He said the first building design looked more like the Sydney Opera House than a design for a working wharf.
"The rents being asked now are far too high for industrial tenants - way above what rents for industrial space are in Raglan."
It showed how "out of touch" the council was, he said.
"They need to delegate control of the wharf to the Raglan Community Board so we can get the wharf working again. We don't need a wharf with more empty retail space. There is too much of that in Raglan now."
But Raglan ward councillor Clint Baddeley said the criticism was unfounded.
He said the building's design was modelled on the pre-fire structure and based on suggestions from the community.
"It always was a working wharf and had become a destination," he said.
"So to say now the council didn't understand that is a bit rich."
General manager water and facilities Richard Bax said the leases at the wharf, and other harbour assets, fund wharf upgrades and replacement, the new footbridge, safety beacons, Whaingaroa Harbour Care planting and other harbour-related projects.
"Without the lease income these projects would not proceed or would have to be funded via other means."
Mr Bax said the lease prices were independently set and if a potential lessee was unhappy with the figures there was an option for the lessee's valuer to settle on a figure with the council's valuer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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