Have your say on Who should manage fishing in the Hauraki Gulf

February 18, 2023
John Laurent

A recent development regarding the Hauraki Gulf has come to our attention – and requires an urgent response. This is regarding fisheries management in the Gulf.

The Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) is currently updating the fisheries management plan for the Hauraki Gulf. In doing so, it is taking the opportunity to design and legislate a Treaty partnership that enables co-governance. The Plan states that governance structures will support Fisheries New Zealand and tangata whenua to work in partnership on the setting of management objectives and management actions and the prioritisation of resourcing.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) Fisheries Division has responsibility under the Fisheries Act 1996 for the management of fisheries stocks in the Hauraki Gulf. Their proposed Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan, currently open for public submissions, sets long-term outcomes to guide the management of fisheries in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. The Plan sets out three ‘desired outcomes’, which encompass environmental, sustainable utilisation and governance.

The Plan can be viewed here:
Draft Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan

Feedback is due by 5pm on Friday 3 March 2023.

The Plan contains some useful conservation initiatives1, but the main thrust is the introduction of a co-governance with iwi arrangement to manage Gulf fisheries.

The partnership/co-governance with tangata whenua agenda is a direct challenge to the principle that all New Zealanders are equal under the law. Under this policy some people will get a greater say and greater rights according to their ancestry. Consequently, co-governance arrangements limit public influence in decision-making.

Who do you want to make decisions regarding the management of fisheries in the Hauraki Gulf?

Do you want democratically elected representatives who are accountable to the public? Or do you want decision-making power in the hands of private sector groups who are unelected by and unaccountable to the wider community?

Please let the Ministry for Oceans and Fisheries know.


Feedback is due by 5pm on Friday 3 March 2023.

Email your submission to: FMSubmissions@mpi.govt.nz

Making submissions can be effective. The successful blocking of the Ahu Moana proposal for Waiheke showed that if enough of us say “no” the politicians will listen, (especially in election year!). The weight of public feedback against an attempt to make the co-governed Hauraki Gulf Forum a statutory management agency for the Gulf (and associated Auckland parks) was also successful.

N.B. Experience shows that template submissions are not as effective as your own words. Be direct and honest but polite. No need to write a book. Up to 20 words is enough.

Here are some suggested points you could make:

  • I oppose the proposal to appoint tangata whenua as partners in the management of the Gulf fisheries. This is based on an inaccurate interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • The partnership arrangement takes control of the Gulf fisheries out of the hands of democratically accountable representatives.
  • This action was not voted on by the public and will lead to social disharmony.
  • The sustainability of ecosystems and fish stocks are issues we all care about. Yet, customary take rights exclusive to iwi and at their discretion flies in the face of the collective responsibility that we all must protect the Hauraki Gulf.
  • The concept of co-governance in relation to management of the Hauraki Gulf has already been rejected by many residents of the Auckland region in a petition to MPI and submissions to Auckland Council.

Examples of risks from these proposals

Examples of risks already arising include a plan in October 2022 by MPI to set up 12 “High Protection Areas” in the Gulf.  These are customary fishing areas for the exclusive use of members of Auckland iwi. This will work to thwart MPI’s objective, as stated in their latest plan, of advancing ecosystem-based fisheries management. Marine scientists will tell you the best way to achieve the ecosystem-based standard is to set up no-take marine reserves, such as the reserve proposed for the western end of Waiheke Island by Friends of the Hauraki Gulf. Customary right areas are in effect private fishing zones for privileged iwi and are a poor substitute for no-take reserves where all citizens have the same obligations.

The plan to create these 12 areas has also resulted in one iwi establishing a fleet of three patrol vessels to act as a vigilante patrol force. This sets a dangerous precedent.

The current draft plan also promotes other specified Māori governance strategies. These include the right to establish ‘Ahu Moana’ areas. These are 50:50 co-management arrangements between mana whenua and local communities, which are applied from the high tide mark extending out one kilometre from the shore. An attempt in 2020 to set up Ahu Moana around all Waiheke Island was staunchly resisted by the wider Waiheke community.

Note: The proposed plan has some sound conservation initiatives such as a proposed ban on Danish seine fishing and bottom trawling in much of the Gulf. Also, a ban on scallop dredging and a plan to regenerate scallops.


Draft Hauraki Gulf Fisheries Plan

Revitalising the Hauraki Gulf: Government action on the Sea Change Plan

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