In a flurry of activity before this term is up, the Government has recently advanced two significant developments concerning the Hauraki Gulf - the approval of a Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan and the introduction of the Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana Marine Protection Bill, both of which I believe warrant concern.
Retaining democratic control of the Gulf has taken a significant blow under the approved Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan, which the government has now taken steps to implement. Under the Plan, fisheries are now to be managed under what is effectively a co-governance arrangement between Māori and the Crown. The general public are largely excluded from the process. For more details see ‘Hauraki Gulf fisheries under new management’
Under the current Labour government, it appears that democracy, accountability and the rights of ordinary citizens count for much less than they used to. Please see our article ‘Where the main parties stand on co-governance of the Hauraki Gulf’ for their responses which may influence your vote in what I see as a particularly crucial election.
The new Hauraki Gulf/Tikapa Moana Marine Protection Bill, introduced to the House last week, creates 19 new marine protection areas, tripling the amount of marine protection in the Gulf to 18 per cent, which on the face of it sounds like promising news for the revitalisation the Gulf. However, the gold standard for marine protection – marine reserves created under the Marine Reserves Act 1971 - are only a minor part of this proposal. Instead, the bill introduces a new category of protection called ‘High Protection Areas’, notable for including built-in rights for Māori customary fishing practices. Such continued exploitation flies in the face of the proven benefits of no-take marine protection. This undermines the credibility of the stated goal of the ‘Revitalising the Gulf’ initiative. See details ‘The Government's Hauraki Gulf 'protection' plan’
A further measure to protect the Hauraki Gulf is a plan to restrict bottom trawling. Under the proposal, nearly nine-tenths of the Gulf would be free from bottom trawling, with the activity confined to defined ‘bottom fishing access zones’. Despite public feedback, the option to completely ban bottom trawling from the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is not offered as an alternative. We have until 6 November to have a say. See ‘Bottom-trawling ban for most of Hauraki Gulf’
The matter of the new aquaculture proposal for the Firth of Thames. Before the aquaculture decision is made, Fisheries New Zealand is seeking information from fishers on how the proposed aquaculture activities may affect their fishing. Submissions are invited from people whose customary, recreational, or commercial fishing may be affected by the proposed marine farm. Deadline 12 September to have your say. More details on this proposal are available at: ‘New aquaculture proposal in the Firth of Thames’
Upcoming Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting -Monday 11 September, 1.00pm TCDC building, Thames 515 Mackay Street. The public are welcome to attend. The Agenda will be posted here soon: https://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/
The 2023 edition. - Gulf Forum report on The State of the Hauraki Gulf environment is now available at: https://gulfjournal.org.nz/state-of-the-gulf/ firstname.lastname@example.org Lee Short, Spokesperson, Gulf Users’ Group