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NZ Marine Industry and Team NZ react to Superyacht anchor fee

by NZMIA/ETNZ/Sail-World.com/nz 13 Mar 19:13 PDT 14 March 2019
Additional Superyacht servicing will be one of the legacies if the 36th America's Cup is held in Auckland © Richard Gladwell

The NZ Marine Industry, supported by Emirates Team New Zealand has spoken out strongly about proposals to introduce an "Anchoring Tax" for visiting superyachts to the 36th America's Cup in Auckland.

The charge is one of two proposed by Auckland Council - the other will hit approximately 2,800 boaties who have moorings in the Council's jurisdiction - who will be asked to pay an extra $57 per year to partially offset the removal of derelict and sunken boats.

Auckland Council proposes charging foreign-flagged vessels of over 40 metres in length, a fee of $23 (inc GST) per metre, per day to anchor in Auckland’s waters (eg. a 45 metre superyacht would be invoiced $1035 by Auckland Council for each day it is anchored in the Hauraki Gulf – be it in the Waitemata Harbour or at Great Barrier Island).

The charge covers any vessel over 40 metres including superyachts, cargo ships and ocean liners.

The NZ Marine Industry continues to be strongly opposed to the potential introduction of such a suggested ‘Anchor Tax’ being applied to visiting superyachts.

From the onset of media reports of the proposed Anchor Tax there has been widespread international dismay from superyacht owners, captains and vessel management agents that New Zealand is considering such a proposal. If this was introduced, we understand New Zealand would be the only country worldwide operating such a system.

Both the South of France and Sardinia instituted a similar tax on foreign-flagged yachts, with devastating effect on the local economy, both have since repealed the tax, realising that it was a grave mistake as the yachts simply went elsewhere. The loss to local business, particularly the marine business, is still recovering.

The 2017 Market Economics’ report highlights additional business that can be expected to be received by New Zealand’s marine and other industry sectors from Auckland hosting the 36th America’s Cup in 2021. The major one being the expected visitation of 160 superyachts each spending on average $2.7 million providing total spend of $436 million in New Zealand.

If Auckland Council proceeds with this new anchor tax for vessels over 40m this could drastically reduce the number of large superyachts visiting New Zealand and the loss to the local and national economy will be substantial.

NZ Marine Industry say they are already hearing of large superyachts concerned about the principle of such a daily visiting tax and their intention to take their vessels to Australia for extensive refits if this anchor tax is introduced.

The new tax will affect all vessels over 40m and is targeting cruise-liners, cargo ships and superyachts – however NZ Marine Industry's representation is only in regards to superyachts.

Emirates Team New Zealand sets the record straight

Executive Director Peter Busfield has met with and expressed NZMIA's grave concerns to the initiator of the proposed tax, Auckland Harbourmaster Andrew Hayter, on several occasions and has another meeting planned for Thursday this week. Peter Busfield has also met with the CEO Panuku Development Auckland, ATEED, Emirates Team New Zealand, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and key councillors some of whom learned about this proposal via a NZ Herald article and not one of them were supportive of the proposed tax being applied to superyachts.

For its part, Emirates Team New Zealand say they have been incorrectly reported by NZ Herald as being in favour of the superyacht charges, when the opposite is the case.

In a written statement issued by the team, the America's Cup Defender echoed the comments made by NZ Marine Industry Association.

"Emirates Team New Zealand stands firmly in support of the Marine Industry Association and Peter Busfield in relation to scalping of superyachts around the America’s Cup with anchorage fees which it sees as extremely short sighted.

"The example stated by Busfield around Sardinia imposing a similar fee and its detrimental effect on the super yacht visits is a very well-illustrated case that owners will simply chose to go to other destinations around the world out of principle at being unnecessarily gouged.

"As well as the Sardinia example, we saw at the America’s Cup’s in Valencia in 2007 and Bermuda in 2017, that attempts to gouge the superyacht owners meant they simply didn’t come. Our philosophy of a fair and inclusive event not only applies to competitors but also all supporters both locally and internationally regardless of who they are.

"Emirates Team New Zealand have a very strong relationship with Panuku and Auckland Council around accommodating superyachts within the America’s Cup Village in typical welcoming kiwi fashion."

"But by all estimates the demand for the 73 America’s Cup village berths will far exceed the supply, so there will be a large number of superyachts that will need to anchor around the Hauraki Gulf that could simply otherwise decide not to come when stung with an excessive fee just to drop an anchor."

Political opportunity

The superyacht anchorage tax provided a political opportunity for an Auckland Councillor, Chris Darby as reported by the New Zealand Herald

This was consistent with his stand against the America's Cup being held in Auckland, as reported in Sail-World click here which also covers the impact of superyachts attending the America's Cup, along with moves across the tasman to lure the America's Cup visitors to Australia for servicing.

"During an open meeting of the Planning Committee of the Auckland Council in early September 2017, the initial options for the hosting of the 36th America's Cup were discussed along with the legacy use of the team bases.

Councillors grasped for information but could only quote a previous 2014 Council report saying that the superyacht servicing industry generated only NZD$30 million per year, that was described as "peanuts for Auckland".

"And when you look at that business case, some 35% of that $30million is actually on lube and oil changes. No value added there. Refits account for only 20 %. Repairs and maintenance account for only 12%. There is no great business benefit to Auckland in parking up mega floating mansions on the waterfront that are owned by occasionally visiting oligarchs and sheikhs etc. There is no real value. You don't obliterate your water space by prioritising it for the privileged," opined Planning Committee Chairman Chris Darby."

His assertions on the value of the superyacht industry to Auckland were completely refuted in a subsequent report compiled by Panuku Developments and tabled with the Governing Body of Auckland Council, which can be reviewed by clicking here. In the report, part of a larger document, it was shown superyachts spent $1.76million to $6.34million each per visit (depending on their length) or a total spend of $210.6million per year - seven times the value stated by Cr Darby. It also estimated that with the Site 18 project operating at full capacity the spend would be $300million per year - ten times Cr Darby's claim. Of that $300million just $15million was spent on Fuel and lube oil - or just 5% not the 35% state by Cr Darby.

The anchoring fee is not just for the period of the America's Cup but is permanent. The deterrence of just one superyacht who bypassed Auckland for Queensland, which there is a large State-backed superyacht facility under construction, could have a significant impact for Auckland marine businesses.

Mooring fees for all boaties set to increase

The superyacht fees are only one arm of the proposed revenue grab.

The Auckland Council is proposing a $57.50 increase in mooring charges - claimed to offset the costs of recovery of sunken boats. The Council claims there is no registration system in New Zealand. However there is a yacht registration system operated by Yachting New Zealand. The Council also require the name and contact details for owners of boats on moorings in case of emergency. They also require this information to be on the boat itself. Also there is no a requirement for all boats on moorings to be insured - which would obviate the cost of salvage of sunken boats, but would also cover the costs of boats breaking off moorings.

In addition to the mooring charges, owners required to be inspected every three years - usually costing around $1500 for the necessary maintenance. These annual charges and the three yearly maintenance are all paid by the boat owner - or the boat is towed/removed by the Harbourmaster.

Have your say

The deadline for Submissions on both proposals is Sunday 17 March.

A consultation period is open between 17 February 2019 and 17 March 2019 and you can contribute feedback online at akhaveyoursay.nz , Feedback forms and supporting information will also be available at libraries, local board offices and service centres, or you can request a copy be mailed to you by emailing or calling 09 301 0101.

To give your feedback on this please proposals email

Auckland Council is asking for your views on these proposals.

Read more about the proposed fees and charges in section 1.6 (page 17) of the supporting information document

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