New Zealand: Concerns Grow over Potential Loss of Southern Surfbreaks

Concerns Grow over Potential Loss of Southern Surfbreaks

Port Otago’s consent application RM11.153 to dispose of dredged material at the Heyward Pt and Spit Beach (Aramoana Beach) for a further 3 years is a real and present threat to the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (NZCPS) nationally listed surfbreaks of Aramoana, Karitane, and at Murderers Bay.

What is of concern to the Surfbreak Protection Society (SPS) is that The Director General’s submission is neutral and appears to attempt shifting responsibility on to the Otago Regional Council for the protection of the Nationally listed and regionally significant surfbreaks.

Port Otago Ltd (POL) is a wholly owned company of the Otago Regional Council (ORC).

SPS fears that Doc has simply acquiesced to POL’s stance that they will not consider any other method of disposal than at these sites, the nearest locations to the dredging activities.

POL wishes to deposit up to 50,000 cu meters per year in the swell corridors of the Aramoana Surfbreak, and up to 350,000 cu meters per year At Heywards Point in the path of Karitane and murderers (Whareakeake) surfbreaks.

The draft resource consent which goes to Council hearing on Monday May the 6th, proposes an “adaptive management” approach which includes surfers logging on to a website to leave comments on how they feel surf conditions are at the affected surfbreaks.

POL has also proposed “surfing enhancement mounds” at these locations that retain sediment, rather than have erosion issues. These mounds are inappropriate for the area, and demonstrates an unacceptable degree of uncertainty regarding local sedimentary dynamics, and the potential flow on effects on surfing wave quality at the named surfbreaks.

It is the view of SPS that this “dump and see what happens” approach is not best practice when the NZCPS states that in such circumstances policy 3 the precautionary approach should be applied.

The SPS view is the depositing activities will have effects on the coastal environment that are uncertain, unknown, or little understood, but potentially significantly adverse. The surfbreaks also have protection with regard to policies 13,15, and 16, of the NZCPS, which state that adverse effects in these areas must be avoided.

SPS recommends a minimum one year baseline study including the use of a cam-ERA Geo – rectifying monitoring system to measure pre-existing surfing wave quality at the surfbreaks, as well as a detailed study of the sedimentary pathways of the areas around and including the surfbreaks and their swell corridors to ensure that adverse effects will be avoided before any depositing is considered.

SPS is disappointed that the views and concerns have been misrepresented in the councils per-hearings report and subsequent Council Officers Recommending Report.

SPS will be making a robust, articulate presentation to the upcoming hearing with professional representation from scientists specialised in quantifying surfing wave quality. SPS says that surfing is a major tourism draw card for the region, and has been used in advertising for organisations such as Otago University.

The Council Hearing runs from the 6th of May until the 9th of May at the Scenic Hotel Southern Cross in Dunedin.


Source:, April 29, 2013