Forum seeks answers on marine sedimentation

The Hauraki Gulf Forum is seeking answers from Auckland Council and the Department of Conversation regarding sedimentation in the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve.

The Forum is independent and advises Council about issues pertaining to the Gulf.

An impassioned plea at the Forum’s meeting last month by Pete Townend of the Long Bay Okura Great Park Society has resulted in the Forum requesting an immediate report regarding sediment pollution and associated environmental effects and advice on sediment controls. It follows the third large-scale death of shellfish in the reserve, off Karepiro Beach, since 2016.

However, Mr Townend says the report does not equal action. He says his organisation’s monitoring of the marine reserve over many years, producing evidence of high sediment readings and runoff from developments such as the Weiti Block, has so far been “totally ineffectual” at getting any change, with the marine environment continuing to degrade.

The group will also make a presentation to Auckland Council’s Environment & Community Committee.
Cr Wayne Walker says there is general agreement that the level of sediment going into the reserve is unacceptable. “What’s required is to look at the emphasis on avoiding effects in the Coastal Policy Statement,” he says. “A Marine Reserve is the highest standard you can have but the erosion and sediment guide is not adequate and puts no emphasis on how much sediment is coming off a development and where it’s going. A different approach needs to be driven by Council and the community.” He says another problem is that the Unitary Plan allows development in locations where it’s clear that sedimentation would be the result.

Council is also in the process of developing a model for the catchment from the upper Weiti River and Okura Marine Reserve to the southern end of Long Bay. It will include a comprehensive assessment of land use and the sediment and contaminant loads generated by those uses.