Media release

Otago Navigation Safety Bylaw adopted

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Otago Regional Council (ORC) councilors adopted new maritime bylaws for safer boating at today’s Council meeting.

The bylaw covers maritime safety in almost all inland waters and all coastal waters out to the 12-nautical limit of the territorial sea of Otago.*

After consultation with the community the bylaw reached its final stage of approval today, and becomes operational on 1 May 2019.

The key features of the Bylaw are:

  • An updated and fit for purpose set of bylaws that are applicable throughout the region, and are aimed at better improving safety and maritime education in and on Otago’s waterways.
  • An update to the lifejacket bylaw, and the size of vessel to which this bylaw applies.
  • A new requirement for improved communication in the Halfway Island area to improve safety in this high-risk location.

Chair of the Regulatory Committee Cr Bryan Scott thanked those who made submissions on the draft Bylaw and those who spoke at the hearings.

“The insights that we gained from the submissions were very valuable and resulted in changes and improvements to the Bylaw. This process wouldn’t work if the people on the ground didn’t give us their honest and open opinions.”

In 2017, ORC appointed a full-time Harbourmaster, Steve Rushbrook, based in Dunedin, to carry out ORC’s maritime responsibilities. ORC is responsible for the regulation of ports, harbours, waters, and maritime-related activities in the Otago region under the Maritime Transport Act (1994).

Mr Rushbrook said the new Bylaw is one of a series of steps to improve maritime safety in Otago.

“The bylaw comes hard on the heels of the recent adoption of the Port and Harbour Marine Safety Plan, and the delivery in March of Maritime New Zealand’s ‘No Excuses’ campaign to promote safer boating,” he said.

The next step in improving marine safety will be the delivery of the new harbour patrol vessel. This will enable the harbourmaster to effectively monitor Otago’s waterways and to keep them safe for everyone to enjoy. The boat arrives on 29 April 2019.

“It will be great to have the ability to get out on the water and engage with the community,” Mr Rushbrook said.

ORC is currently asking the community to suggest the name of the Harbourmaster’s boat. Suggestions will be accepted until 5pm, Wednesday 10 April.

You can make a suggestion by going to, or by calling 0800 474 082.

For more information about the Otago Navigation Safety Bylaws go to


*Responsibility for the waters of the Queenstown Lakes District and Lake Dunstan continues to lie with Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) and Central Otago District Council (CODC), having previously been transferred by ORC.




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