The Government’s strategy for revitalising the Hauraki Gulf has been labelled farcical, biased and offensive by recreational fishing groups and tour operators.
Orewa’s Terry Creagh, of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council (NZSFC), and Tony Orton, from Mangawhai, representing nearly 20 charter boat guides, told the quarterly Hauraki Gulf Forum meeting held via Zoom on Monday that they rejected the Revitalising the Gulf plan.
Their principal objections were with the Government’s failure to ban commercial dredging and trawling in gulf waters and the “locking-up” of 18 new or extended marine protection areas being proposed, including around the Mokohino Islands, Te Hauturu Little Barrier, Kawau Bay and Tiritiri Matangi.
Although Revitalising the Gulf has been put together in response to the call for action made by the 2017 Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan, Mr Creagh said the result was compromised and offensive to those who had worked hard to produce that original consensus-based plan.
“The proposals are a win for industrial fishing interests and a loss for both the marine ecosystem and the people of the Hauraki Gulf,” he said.
Tony Orton said he owned a sustainable fishing business and he had been eagerly anticipating Revitalising the Gulf.
“Sadly, it is a nail in the coffin for many enterprises that utilise the Gulf, particularly for people looking for a special fishing adventure or the chance to take home fresh fish for dinner,” he said. “Put plainly, the marine protection proposals are not acceptable in the absence of any meaningful effort to curb destructive commercial fishing pressure.
“World class fisheries could be lost forever under the current proposed plan, yet with simple management they could remain sustainable forever.”
After government department updates on the process, timeframes and workstreams involved in implementing Revitalising the Gulf, Fisheries NZ manager Jake Hore said that this was a road map and there would be public consultation on marine protection and fisheries management in 2022.
“There are a lot of actions set out, a lot of things have been carried forward, but this is when you can really lay out the direction of travel,” he said.
Forum co-chair Pippa Coom said she appreciated those who had voiced their concerns, but this was the only proposal on the table.
“It’s been a long time coming. It’s a first step, a starting point,” she said. “We want to make sure we improve the proposals – bottom-impact fishing should be removed from the entire marine park – but this is the continuation of a journey. We want to be actively involved going forward.”
Info: Hauraki Gulf Forum https://gulfjournal.org.nz/
Revitalising the Gulf: https://www.doc.govt.nz/globalassets/documents/our-work/sea-change/revitalising-the-gulf.pdf