The Grey District Council says the appointment of a manager to oversee the Greymouth Port should allow it to manage the harbour more strategically.
Greymouth last had a port manager about eight years ago, under contract to the council, but has not had a harbourmaster since the 1960s.
Council chief executive Paul Pretorius has effectively been juggling the role of port manager for several years.
Mr Pretorius confirmed last week a port team leader had been appointed and would start within weeks.
“That will put the port on a much more productive, focused way into the future,” Mr Pretorius said.
Concerns have been raised by the fishing industry about the two-year delay in getting the second-hand dredge, bought by the council in 2015, up and running and the build-up of silt which is currently restricting the depth and timing of some fishing boat movements in the lagoon.
Mr Pretorius said the new team leader would have particular oversight of the day-to-day working of the port and the hands-on approach. This should see work progress more speedily to operate the dredge and keep the port navigable.
In 2015, Mr Pretorius told a council meeting the council was “not necessarily forced” to have a harbourmaster however the new health and safety law and the specific conditions posed by the Grey River bar meant it would be “pretty tricky not to”.
Last week he said they were still considering the responsibilities of a harbourmaster in the mix alongside the new port team leader role.
That still included the possibility of sharing with Westport for a regional harbourmaster.
“The harbourmaster position is on hold … we’re looking at one harbourmaster taking control of three or four ports, or something like that,” Mr Pretorius said.
“I have to wait to see how that pans out but it looks good.”
Meanwhile, one of the major port users Westfleet is happy with how things are progressing.
Westfleet owner Craig Boote said they had spent about $200,000 to attach fenders to the wharf to protect tied up boats from the tidal surge, with the reduced depth, but he was confident the council was doing its best to address the underlying problem.
“We’ve put up with shallow water entrances for some years now,” Mr Boote said.
“In the perfect world we would like it dredged but I can see that the council is doing the best they can.”
Mr Boote said the current state of the navigable port was a reflection of packed down silt and “years and years of rubbish there”.
“I think the council is getting it right and we’re working with them. Westfleet is 100% supportive.”