Monday, June 24, 2024

Council urges action ahead of Pest Free deadline

Auckland Council is urging transport operators working close to the islands in the Hauraki Gulf to apply for a Pest Free Warrant before they become compulsory in the new year.

Any commercial boat transporting people or goods, including barges, fishing charters and charter vessels, even kayak and jet ski tourist operators, are required to be accredited with Pest Free Warrant status to be able to land or come within one nautical mile of any island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.

The Hauraki Gulf is a nationally significant marine park where many of the islands are pest free, or partially pest free. This means they are now home to some of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered species.

Pest Free Warrants assess whether the required biosecurity standards and behaviours for visiting a pest free island are being followed. The warrant is designed to reduce the risk of pest invasion and spread to the islands with the focus on species that can stow away on boats and in gear: rats, skinks, mice, Argentine ants and the pathogen that causes kauri dieback.

Auckland Council’s Pest Free Warrants Advisor, Karen Thode says more than 100 commercial boat operators have already received Pest Free Warrant certification.

“It’s great to have so many jump onboard early, and voluntarily, but we are concerned about the boat operators we haven’t heard from yet; this includes boats coming into Auckland from Northland, Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty.”

Chair of the Planning, Environment and Parks Committee, Councillor Richard Hills says the gulf islands are under constant pressure from the potential invasion of pests.

“We’re invested in keeping the gulf islands pest free and need to keep them this way as many of our endangered and threatened species have made them home.”

“Being pest free warranted means everyone is on the alert for these biosecurity threats and are playing their part in protecting our environment.”

Pest Free Warrants become compulsory as at on 1 January 2024 under Auckland Council’s Regional Pest Management Plan 2020-2030.  

There is no fee for Pest Free Warrant accreditation. Free training and support is available from Auckland Council and the Department of Conservation to help businesses achieve their warrants.

Boat operators can get started here.

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