### ODT Online Sat, 27 Mar 2010
Fishermen oppose Port Otago’s sand, silt proposal
By Allison Rudd
Otago fishermen have formed a working party to write their formal response to Port Otago’s plans to dump more than seven million cubic metres of sand and silt off Taiaroa Head. Port Otago will soon apply for resource consent to widen the Otago Harbour shipping channel and dump 7.2 million cubic metres of dredge material 6.5km out to sea.
The Port Chalmers Fishermen’s Co-operative fears the sand and silt may create a “dead zone” along the coast, threatening fishing stocks and their income.
21.2.10 So where’s the media explosion?
26.2.10 Latest on Dunedin’s offshore oil and gas prospects
26.2.10 Port Otago: “Next generation” project
11.3.10 ORC: Ports merger only approved if it benefits Otago
18.3.10 Dunedin harbourside for oil base?
The interesting thing is, aside from port merger politics, a number of New Zealand’s major ports are dredging their channels in anticipation of larger container vessels.
Did the ports’ boards stop to ask the shipping line(s) ‘What size of boats are you planning to send us?’ So we, the port companies, can reliably assess if we need to fund expensive consenting processes and dredging?
Sometimes, the ports’ suit brigades aren’t up to managing their way out of a paper bag? That’s not the right question, or is it. After all, this is a matter of regional-national logistics and planning for sustainable business development in New Zealand.
Bottom line: port activity must be coordinated and quality controlled for the service and development of the national export economy as much as the global shipping trade.
The ports falling into into ad hoc, reactionary localised practice; attempting to do things on the cheap; not attending to maritime safety; not upskilling and training the workforce; failing to coordinate the spread of risk across our major deepwater facilities and access points; not inviting new business partnerships and supplier relationships; and so on – is not about promoting and building an efficient, flexible and sustainable freighting base for New Zealand producers.
Why encourage container traffic through the port of Lyttelton if their cranes are unsuitably old and clunky (showing the lack of major investment in that port company’s infrastructure)?
Why send (larger?) container ships to Port Otago if there’s no harbour master to oversee maritime safety? Why would we think to promote Dunedin as an oil base without a harbour master? (Hello, Otago Regional Council, owner of Port Otago Ltd, are you going to manage your responsibilities to the marine environment anytime soon? …An international vessel grounds in Otago Harbour, we haven’t systems and accountabilities in place to manage spillage and contamination – the boat’s full of high value Fonterra milk powder immediately due to China processing plants – we’ve f***ed the supply chain. Who doesn’t get their money, who is liable?)
Knowing and managing risks and liabilities going forward through close modelling, system analysis and quality control of New Zealand supply chains, industry processing, freight handling and haulage, transportation planning, trade diplomacy, incentive systems, international gateway ports and airports – amongst other factors – is ESSENTIAL to growing the export economy.
Not too many people know how the ports operate. We assume all the systems and risks are being professionally managed by the port companies, according to statutory requirements.
The truth is – leaving statutory responsibilities aside for a moment (by the way, it’s not all tip-top with these) – each port has been crawling along, instituting its own limited management and operating systems. A power of work at every level is urgently needed to bring industry consistency to the safe management and competitiveness of our New Zealand ports.
Why allow a bunch of ‘sailors’ (many of them accountants with no wider training or expertise), dressed as port executives, to run New Zealand port infrastructure like they know what they’re doing. They don’t.
The ports’ middle management tiers are gripped by the heavy overwhelming reality of historical cumulative logistical weakness in the New Zealand port industry.
All up, ports’ management is not well organised – or sufficiently well skilled and educated – for the practical, hardnosed ‘change management’ required in the national port sector.
The port boards and bosses are under par as strategists. Let the blood-letting begin.
Post by Elizabeth Kerr