‘Super excited’ to be able to check moored vessels

Doubtful Sound tourism operators were "super excited" yesterday when they were granted permission to check vessels moored at Deep Cove.

Fiordland Cruises owner Clint Tauri said he had received notification from the National Crisis Management Centre, which said all operators would be allowed access to check their boats to mitigate an environmental disaster.

Mr Tauri believed operators in Milford Sound were also sent the notification.

The predicament of the boat owners came to light last week when it was reported in the media the Department of Conservation (Doc) was able to get workers to check its boats but tourism operators could not gain access to theirs.

Mr Tauri said it had been a fairly lengthy process trying to gain access. "We’re sort of out on a bit of a limb down here in Fiordland but I think everybody understands we need to get into these vessels."

All boats were about 20m long and had about 4000litres-5000litres of diesel.

"You just can’t leave boats sitting in the sea with tides coming in and out, and with the weather we have here.

"We had a storm last night — I didn’t sleep much."

All operators had submitted plans on how they would get into the area and how often they needed to access the boats, he said.

In the interim, Deep Cove hostel manager Billy Williams had been keeping an eye on the boats but it was important owners were able to check them, Mr Tauri said.

"It’s unfair on a hostel manager to be put in that situation that he’s in charge of six or seven boats ... Where does the liability stop?

"There’s got to be a qualified person goes on to the boat."

The operators had received assistance to gain access from Southland Mayor Gary Tong, Southland district councillor Ebel Kremer and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker.

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