QLDC system ‘failed’: Coastguard | Otago Daily Times News Online

There has been a systemic failure within the Queenstown Lakes District Council over its new maritime patrol contract, said Wanaka Lakes Coastguard spokesman Jonathan Walmisley.

But Queenstown Lakes District Council said last night the role of Harbor Master is about education. The police, not the harbor master’s office, must be called in an emergency.

Mr Walmisley said the boating community’s arrows should be aimed at the right target – the council’s harbor master’s call system – not the new operator Cougar Security.

Cougar Security has held the council captaincy contract since July.

Cougar’s contract was not the same as that previously held by the SMS Waterways team, led by former Queenstown Lakes Harbor Master Marty Black. People’s expectations were always based on what Mr Black did, Mr Walmisley said.

“What seriously concerns me is that the system put in place by the QLDC has failed. It is not fit for purpose. It needs to be resolved urgently…and until it is in place , it is too early to attack the captaincy [Cougar].”

Wanaka’s part-time harbor master Jeff Donaldson resigned last week, citing safety concerns.

Mr Black had investigative and audit powers from Maritime New Zealand in addition to his advisory role as an educator and enforcer of local shipping and boating safety regulations.

The boating community and the media were calling Mr. Black directly on his cell phone to report and discuss incidents, hazards and emergencies.

Under the new system, people must go to the Queenstown Lakes District Council landline and staff will contact Cougar Security. Online applications are an option.

Mr Walmisley told the Otago Daily Times this week people “either loved him or hated him [Mr Black], but everyone knew what his job was”.

“But I don’t think we know what Cougar’s role is… People’s expectations revolve around the old contract.”

Cougar Security director Ricky Campbell said this week he had others who could patrol Lake Wanaka and a job offer had been sent to former harbor master Craig Blake.

Council Regulatory Officer Anthony Hall said there would be no loss of service at Wanaka following Mr Donaldson’s departure.

Waterway services have different roles, especially in emergency situations, he said.

“The role of the Harbor Master and other council-run waterway officers is to educate and ensure lake and river users follow relevant water safety rules and regulations.”

Mr Hall said the council and Cougar were working closely with Maritime NZ on education and enforcement, Cougar vessel certification and Cougar staff training plans.

Maritime NZ’s role was to investigate serious incidents and accidents, and to support and coordinate search and rescue with police and coastguards, Mr Hall said.

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