By Rowan Quinn/Radio New Zealand.
Luxury yachts heading to Auckland to watch the America's Cup close-up could be charged thousands to anchor at sea and view the racing.
The council is considering a fee for foreign vessels over 40m long which anchor in any of Auckland's navigable waters, and the change should be in place well before the Cup starts in about two years. Boats will be charged $23 per metre per day, which would be $1150 a day for a 50m yacht. The policy would also cover cargo ships and cruise ships that can't berth at the city's wharves.
Former America's Cup skipper Chris Dickson said the council was trying to regulate the ocean and it was not on.
“It's open ocean. What on earth is the council doing even suggesting charging users to anchor their boats?”
It was only a matter of time before the council would extend the policy to New Zealanders, he said.
Foreign boats already paid to moor or berth at public facilities but they did not have to pay if they were simply anchored at sea, no matter how long they stayed.
Auckland councillor Chris Darby said the council funded safety services and navigational aids like beacons and it was only fair the boat owners helped pay.
“I think the public are going to be very surprised that we don't already charge for super yachts and we don't already charge for cargo ships that are moored in public waters.”
And the fee would be small change to the “oligarchs that might be coming down from the Mediterranean, the Bahamas, or wherever”, he said.
One industry insider RNZ spoke to said the fee could put super yachts off visiting Auckland and that they already paid their way through the regional fuel tax when refuelling their huge tanks.
The proposal will most likely go out for public consultation after a council meeting tomorrow.