Organisations hoping to persuade Fisheries Minister David Parker to extend a recent partial ban on scallop fishing to the whole Hauraki Gulf are frustrated at his lack of response on the matter.
On May 4, representatives from 19 different iwi, community, marine and environmental bodies wrote to Minister Parker urging him to close the two scallop beds left open by him to commercial and recreational take, off Hauturu/Little Barrier and in the Colville Channel.
The letter said the areas were vital to the recovery of scallop populations around the wider Hauraki Gulf, the Eastern Coromandel Peninsula and the Bay of Plenty, and should be closed give all of the Gulf a chance to recover quickly and reopen in future.
Putting their names to the plea were LegaSea, Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust, Omaha Beach Community, the Environmental Defence Society, NZ Diving, Waiheke Marine Project, Kawau Boating Club, the NZ Sport Fishing Council, WWF New Zealand, Environment and Conservation Organisations, Waiheke Marine Project, Dive Zone Whitianga, Ngāti Hei, the NZ Angling & Casting Association, Opito Bay Ratepayer’s Association, Wettie Spearfishing, the Tairua Pauanui Sports Fishing Club, New Zealand Underwater Association and Spearfishing New Zealand.
LegaSea programme lead Sam Woolford, whose signature tops the list, said last week nothing had yet been heard back from the fisheries minister, beyond a basic acknowledgement.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t had any sort of proper response,” he said.
Nor had there been any reaction from the fisheries ministry to a formal application for a total ban, which was made by Ngāti Manuhiri after the placing of a rahui tapu over the Hauraki Gulf on Waitangi Day, Woolford added.
“The application for a temporary ban on all scallop fishing in the Hauraki Gulf under Section 186a of the Fisheries Act hasn’t been acknowledged by the Minister or put out for public consultation, which they are obligated to do,” he said.
“We want that to go out. We know we will get overwhelming support from the public.”
He added that he hoped the silence wasn’t because the minister thought the partial ban was an end to the matter, and said a meeting with Minister Parker was being sought.
“We’ll be pushing for clarification on that issue,” he said. “We’re overdue for a meeting.”
Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust acting chief executive and Hauraki Gulf Forum co-chair Nicola McDonald confirmed that no formal response to the Section 186a application had been received from the minister.
“We understand that our application is before his officials,” she said. “In the meantime, we are working with our partners, carrying out further research to provide evidence to the minister that these two fishery areas need to be protected and closed.”
Mahurangi Matters approached Minister Parker to ask what was happening about the formal application for a ban on all scallop fishing and when it might go out for public consultation, as well as for his response to the May 4 letter. However, no response had been received as we went to press.