Seals in the Marina
We are often asked about seals in the marinas, and what we can do to prevent them coming aboard jetties and vessels. Because we operate in a marine environment, we share this dilemma with many other marinas throughout New Zealand, and are limited in the mitigations that we can put in place as a marina operator.
Kekeno, (seals), including New Zealand Fur Seals and Leopard Seals, regularly visit our marinas. Leopard seals which sometimes visit from Antarctica are considered to be a potentially aggressive breed. If you find a seal on the jetties and can’t get past, please contact your marina office for assistance if necessary. Generally we find that our marina users can exist in harmony with our local seals, but we have had a couple of very naughty seals this year which have been able to board vessels, and make their homes on the sterns, causing some considerable mess for the berth holders involved.
The Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992 list the conditions governing behaviour around marine mammals, with commercial operators subject to further rules. All seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, and therefore it’s an offence to harass, disturb, injure or kill marine mammals. Anyone charged with harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a marine mammal faces a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or a fine to a maximum of $250,000, so we are unable to chase, scare or put any other mitigations in place to deter the seals away from the marina.
If you’re finding that your vessel is irresistable to our local marine mammals, we recommended that you seek advice from DOC who will be able to let you know around any mitigations which you could put in place to prevent seals from boarding your vessel.
In the past this has included things like tying your dinghy on your boarding platform to prevent the seals boarding your vessel, or it could be placing squabs etc in your cabin. Our marina staff are usually very vigilant with informing berth holders of any seal misadventure, and we are happy to help where possible.
The Department of Conservation produces a handy guideline with information around seals, and this is available online here.