Any contamination of Otago's inshore coastal environment as a
result of harbour dredge dumping is highly unlikely but could
be of high impact if it does occur, Environment Court judge
Jeff Smith says.
Judge Smith gave an oral decision yesterday on the appeal by
the East Otago Taiapure Management Committee, Southern Clams
and Otago Rock Lobster Association against the conditions of
Port Otago's consent to dump 7.2 million cu m of material
from its dredging of Otago Harbour.
After a week of court hearings and non-public specialist
caucuses, most of the fisheries interests' concerns had been
resolved, Judge Smith said.
However, he turned down a request by the groups that their
representatives on the port's consultative groups be paid for
A key outcome was the inclusion in the consent and
environmental management plan of recognition of any
discernible adverse effect on the inshore coastal
environment, including the kelp forest, he said.
It recognised there would be an effect at dump site AO but
that it would recover in the short to medium term.
An adaptive management regime used in the port's other
consents for the Next Generation Project was also adopted,
including the use of the project group, Ngai Tahu group and
technical group to make ongoing recommendations that were
appropriate regarding the effect of the dumping.
An environmental turbidity limit was to be established based
on baseline monitoring the port was required to do and
approved by the Otago Regional Council.
If it was exceeded, dredging was to stop and the council had
the power to review the consent or cancel it.
Turbidity monitoring was to take place at a site about 1500m
south of the centre of the disposal site and 1500m west of
the site, and the telemetry results from those would be
posted on Port Otago's website daily.
Another site, 1km to 2km northeast of Cornish Head near the
off-shore edge of the area's kelp forest, was also to be
established but it would not be used for compliance.
The panel, which included commissioners Alex Sutherland and
Anne Leijenn, also agreed biological monitoring of the area
for baseline data should be done but the area was subject to
agreement under the environmental management plan, Judge
The risk to rock lobster at the dump site was regarded as
A written decision would be issued next year, he said.