Have your say on the Hauraki Gulf Protection Bill

October 24, 2023
Gulf Users' Group

You may recall notification of the Hauraki Gulf Protection Bill we sent early last month - see The Government's Hauraki Gulf 'protection' plan.  A reminder that the closing date for submissions is 11.59pm on Wednesday, 01 November 2023.

Furthermore, submissions on the trawl corridor proposals close on 6 November. See more on this below.

It is well documented that the Hauraki Gulf is under serious stress. The ‘Hauraki Gulf /Tīkapa Moana/Te Moananui-ā-Toi State of the Environment Report 2023  released in August, shows the Marine Park is experiencing continued ecological collapse. Help is urgently needed to help turn around the ongoing and serious degradation of the Gulf. The Government recently introduced the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill, in an attempt to address this decline.

Human impacts, principally over-exploitation of fisheries and poor fishing practices, are considered by marine scientists to be the main cause of the environmental crisis and the decline in a wide range of marine species. Specific findings in the ‘State of the Environment Report’, are indicative of the ongoing poor health of the Gulf. These include:

• Snapper and tarakihi are at levels where action is needed to actively rebuild their stocks (less than 20% of unfished stock biomass);  

• Crayfish is regarded as functionally extinct in heavily fished areas;

• Kina barrens are expanding rapidly due to the lack of large predators – snapper and crayfish;

• There has been universal decline in the density of harvestable (>30 mm) cockles over the last 20 years at the 12 monitored sites where harvesting is allowed.

Marine Reserves are proven to be the most effective way of protecting marine life and habitats.

However, under the proposed legislation less than 1% of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park will be fully protected.

Existing legislation - the Marine Reserves Act - allows for the establishment of the gold standard in marine protection - marine reserves. These areas are protected from the sea surface to the seafloor. They are strict 'no take' zones, which include all marine life, shells, rocks, and driftwood. Scientific studies show this is by far the most effective type of marine protected area.

While the Bill provides for the extension of two existing marine reserves: Goat Island near Leigh and Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve on the Coromandel Peninsula, its primary purpose is to introduce two new types of marine protection that provide for iwi customary practices. Restrictions will be imposed on specific activities while still permitting customary harvest by iwi and hapu in the proposed ‘High Protection Areas’ and ‘Seafloor Protection Areas.’

Therefore, the customary rights of Maori are to be placed over and above best practise marine protection - and the rights of everyone else. In effect, what is being proposed are exclusive–to–iwi fishing grounds.

Map of the proposed 'protected' areas.

Please click HERE for further information.

There is no doubt effective legislation is needed to contribute to the restoration of the health and biodiversity of the Hauraki Gulf.  However, the combining of two different and conflicting objectives, ‘customary rights’ and marine protection compromises the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas. Fishing, ‘customary’ or otherwise, flies in the face of the proven benefits of no-take marine protection and undermines the credibility of stated conservation goals to revitalise the Gulf.

Customary fishing in High Protection Areas is unnecessary - under the proposed plan, over 80% of the Gulf will still allow customary and recreational fishing rights to be exercised - by all citizens.

To make your submission on the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill, please click HERE. We have until 11:59 pm on Wednesday 1 November 2023 to have our say on this legislation.

Additionally, we have until 5pm on 6 November 2023 to have a say on the proposed options for bottom fishing access zones (trawl corridors) in the Hauraki Gulf.

We covered this issue last month – see Bottom-trawling ban for most of Hauraki Gulf

Going against strong public opinion and scientific evidence showing bottom trawl methods destroy marine ecosystems and contribute to the decline of the Hauraki Gulf, Fisheries New Zealand has no plan to ban this destructive practice from the Gulf. Instead, the government proposes to restrict the practice to ‘trawl corridors’.  The four options are under consideration by Fisheries NZ, and instructions on how to make a submission, can found here: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/58729-Discussion-document-Bottom-Fishing-Access-Zones-in-the-Hauraki-Gulf-Marine-Park


No items found.

The Latest

Read More