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Marine Biosecurity - Gulf Harbour Marina takes pragmatic, positive approach to marine biosecurity

by Clean Below? Good to Go 8 Dec 2021 16:41 PST 9 December 2021
Lightbulb ascidian has been found at Gulf Harbour Marina. © Sam Happy, Auckland Coulcil

Gulf Harbour is the gateway to Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf islands. It is the first significant marina and haulout facility you come across when entering Auckland from most directions and the first you come across when you leave Auckland. It is busy, with boats constantly entering and leaving all year around.

It is also blessed thanks to an investment in infrastructure with clear, clean water and bountiful wildlife including seals, stingrays and even visiting dolphins.

This gives the operation a sense of responsibility to protect all that by ensuring its fleet was ‘clean and tidy’.

Like most marinas in the region, Mediterranean fanworm is established on the underwater structures, but with no practical way of removing it, it is a fact of life for marina management and boating customers.

The challenge is to ensure it’s not carried from the marina to any other locations.

To ensure this, Gulf Harbour provides a cost effective haulout service. It encourages its customers to make use of discounted boat maintenance services in the off peak months.

They contact badly fouled boats and work with the owners to help ensure the situation is rectified. A challenge at the moment with the borders closed is minding boats owned by offshore customers. Fortunately many of these customers have agreed to have their boats hauled out and stored on the hard. One has been on the hardstand for a year now.

Gulf Harbour also works with the service provider BoatSmart HQ where a local operator can take care of an owner’s boat maintenance, including cleaning and antifouling, on a scheduled basis. (Tutukaka Marina also works with Boatsmart HQ For the same purpose)

It also has strict policies including no in-water cleaning. Safety is one very important reason for that. Another is the adverse affects of scraping antifoul chemicals into the water, and biofouling into the water. “We have brilliant fish life in the marina, and we’d like it to stay that way,” they say.

Most recently the marina has been host to Auckland Council’s team of divers, surveying the Auckland fleet for biofouling. Auckland Council has strict rules relating to vessel biofouling and cleaning, designed to prevent marine pests from spreading both to its Hauraki Gulf islands and further afield.

The pest Lightbulb Ascidian (Clavelina lepadiformis), pictured below has been detected at the marina. “When we find something, the guys know what to look for,” they say.

The marina has also offered a warm welcome to the Auckland Council Marine Biosecurity outreach staff, who help to spread the word to boat owners about marine pests.

With its programme of surveillance and detection, providing options for maintenance, and education, we reckon Gulf Harbour Marina is doing a great job.

Find out about marine biosecurity for boaters at

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