Ferry speed limit stopped shoreline damage

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Ferry speed limit stopped shoreline damage

A decade after speed limits were imposed on ferry traffic in the Marlborough Sounds a marine biology report says shore life has recovered to the point where monitoring can be scaled back.

The Marlborough District Council began the monitoring 20 years ago when concerns were raised about the impact of fast ferries travelling through Tory Channel/Kura Te Au and Queen Charlotte Sound/Tōtaranui.

Council introduced a navigational bylaw in 2000 to limit boat speed and the height of vessels’ bow waves, for the sake of safety and to reduce damage along the shoreline from wave action.

The latest report shows that, at most of 21 monitoring sites, shoreline erosion has either stabilised or returned to the state it was in before fast ferries began.

Council coastal scientist Dr Steve Urlich says the findings show Council’s intervention helped to save part of the Sounds ecosystem.

"The monitoring shows the resilience of the marine environment. Appropriate and far-sighted management can put ecosystems back on the road to recovery. These results are encouraging, but there is much more to do to restore the ecology of the Sounds," says Dr Urlich.

Council has been advised that shoreline and biological monitoring can be reduced to a bi-annual programme but that it was important it be maintained as there was little long term research on intertidal zones elsewhere in New Zealand.

See the Environment Committee report from 31 August meeting